March 20, 2006

Robert Mulligan, USA 1962

i finally get what the fuss is about--why so many people simply adore this film! with old classics, we usually get hokey characters, corny rhetorics, and dusty, old values. but this is truly masterful filmmaking. and it actually stands the test of time wonderfully. i was stunned. this is THE film that epitomizes my being. i saw myself so perfectly in this film, like in no other before. i have never related and reacted to a film on such a moral, personal, intrinsic level as with this one. it's a rare experience to discover a favorite film after so many years of jaded cinematic viewing. but i just did. if Atticus wasn't such a strange name, i would name my future children after him:) honestly. the film is about Atticus Finch (oh, unless i use Finch! gotta use that somewhere), a lawyer in a small southern town, his two kids, and Tom Robinson, a black man on trial for raping a white girl. it is about fairness, honour, justice, and standing up for your fellow man. but it's also more than that. Robert Mulligan directs this finely crafted film with such a meticulous hand. he makes it come alive. it's more like theater in that way. the performances are naturalistic rather than flamboyant and pompous. there's a lot of work that went into the film, and yet, the thorough nature of Mulligan's direction is never overdone. it never outshines the characters and their stories. on the contrary, everything just flows better because of it. it's an outstanding job. the film starts out pleasantly enough, making us feel at home in Atticus' and the kids' small community. what i found surprising here was how natural the children's performances were. and they had to be if they wanted the film to work; the three kids are the main characters for a good part of the first act. and they're not corny either, which was surprising. it reminded me of the Spielberg kids back in the day. the courtroom proceedings take up the 2nd part of the film. and it is breathtaking. everything stops for this act and i was left speechless for most of it (Peck's performance during the closing arguments was the only minor flaw i saw in the whole film. it felt as though he was under the weather a bit, especially compared to the rest of the film where he simply shines through and through). every actor here is stunning (i even found the prosecutor's performance fascinating!). this section is all dialogue and is handled with so much flair. they never try to dazzle us. it's all about the brilliant dialogue and pure acting -- especially Brock Peters' deafening sobriety as Tom Robinson. there is an eloquence in the examination and testimonies that is, again, simply breathtaking. this is a film filled with sensitivity and a searing honesty that's rare in most films. we are lucky enough to have this in our midst. do not miss this exceptional piece of work. noble, just, and graceful.

Posted by Sam | 11:30 AM |