December 11, 2005

Sydney Pollack (USA 2005)

a political thriller involving an African-American U.N. interpreter (Nicole Kidman). after a bumbling attempt at introductions, Pollack and company finally get their shit together and put together the first good scene of the movie. the story confused the crap outta me, switching sides, terrorists, and motivations at every turn. the movie is smarter than your average Hollywood thriller, i'll give it that, and writer Steven Zaillian probably had a huge hand in that, but i think the rewrites tangled the plot lines a bit too much so that it was hard to follow every line through. at one point, they even seemed to be going for a linear message - Killing is ...wrong? - but the second and third acts brought it more into focus about the two lead characters. and so, for me, this film was more about mourning than anything political (it's hard to do politics on-screen -- you either do a documentary or go with a fictitious story that feels pretentious and fake). i liked the emotional content much more. i was actually expecting a cleaner thriller than this. the storylines, although incredibly well-thought out, were too messy and quick. quick sidenote - i was surprised to see Catherine Keener's name in the credits. she's a very fresh and indie kind of actress, so i was pleasantly surprised. but her character was disposable - at best. a bit sad to see so much potential talent getting wasted in such a manner. back to the film. the performances were alright. Nicole Kidman wasn't anything special, but Sean Penn gives a notably grim performance, grounding us into some sort of reality, giving the world in which the characters live the credibility it deserves. so, i was initially letdown by the film, but, at one crucial point, it picked back up spectacularly well, finally getting its legs and running on for a good bit before dwindling down into a convoluted end piece (but a quick look at the excruciatingly bad alternate ending makes me thankful we got this one instead). blander than i expected, but it does have some life if you give it some time.

Posted by Sam | 4:36 PM |