After watching this worthless film I suggest that the definition of the word "pretentious" include--see "The Hunger Games." What we have here is the overused "Man is an animal to man" concept, wrapped up in a costume drama that trys way too hard to appear significant. And those costumes and makeup!!! Eeghads, it's a cross between punk, female impersonaters, and evil clowns. The plot is about as engaging as an evening with boring friends. I never felt drawn into the supposed deep emotion of the story. As a supposed indictment of an evil futuristic society, this is a joke! Compare it to "A Clockwork Orange" and "1984" and then try to tell me I'm wrong. This left me starving for a real movie, and I'm ever so glad that I saw it on an overseas trip and didn't pay for it.
As many of you know, one premise of Chaos Theory is that one slight change in one place may yield huge results in a totally unrelated place. That is known as "the butterfly effect." This is not what happens here, so the title serves as a hook to potential movie goers rather than defining the movie itself. But what you get by viewing it is plenty satisfying enough. Admittedly, I've been a sucker for any story that revolves around the intriguing question of what would changing events through time travel do to the future from which your came. Most of the stories of this genre that I've seen revolve around one significant change. In this film, we get several (I didn't stop to count them), which adds to the exploration of that basic premise. What happens to our main character (Ashton Kuchner in the best acting in his career) is the sad fact that alternate results continue to lead to tragedies that are different, but no worse. That is why he keeps dipping in and out of time. The same characters appear, but end up in very different ways (i.e. a psychopathic killer in one reality becomes a devoted Christian proseltizer in another). Determined to discover SOME change that will yield a positive result, Kuchner perservers. Now comes the equaly perplexing and intriguing element. There are two different endings in the movie. And in this case these two are vastly different! In the theatrical version, by refusing the innocent romantic interest of the young girl that is highly impacted by every one of their subsequent involvements, happiness without tragedy at last is the result. While his future is not revealed, he looks happy enough as an adult--and there is even a suggestion at the very end that she and he might be star crossed lovers after all. The Director's version is far more dramatic and calls for the biggest sacrifice of all from him. Here his mother, who already has had multiple miscarriages, miscarries him. Thus he gives up his life before it even begins!And for him it is worth it, because he discovers that since he never lived, everyone else lives happily ever after. This is told simply but effectively in a rapid 'slide show' of scenes chronicling this. This movie engages the viewer, challenges the viewer to actually think (imagine that in a mainstream Hollywood movie!), and provides them with the chance to speculate upon their own lives and the lives they've observed if they had made different choices. See it!
Imagine a remake of "It's a Wonderful Life" set in the 1980's and removed from its Christmas holiday timeframe. But this version is much more humorous and considerably less preachy, making for delightful viewing. This is a dessert of a movie. Sweet, immediately satisying, and not particularly nutritious (read: intelligent). If you allow yourself to be immersed in the premise (not all that difficult), this is an enjoyable ride into the land of your lost dreams. Now if you want your lost dreams to work out much better than the life you are actually leading, this story isn't for you. Like Jimmy Stewart, James Belushi learns that the life he has come to feel estranged from is actually the best of all lives for him. His fantasy woman (Rene Russo)is his wife in the new reality. But despite her great beauty and surprisingly deep devotion to him, she turns out to be no match for his continued attraction to his real life's actual wife. In the fantasy reality she only knows him as the evil CEO in the coroporation that she(adorably played by Linda Hamilton in a Meg Ryan type of role) is the chief union negotiator for the employees. I chanced upon this film channel surfing one night, and was so caught up in the plot that I didn't notice the parallels to that old holiday classic. So when Belushi wisely returns to his real life at the end to be REALLY surprised at his surprise birthday party (he had thought every one, even his wife, had forgotten), I got suckered right into it. Having lost to divorce a wife every bit as attractive and loving as Linda Hamilton, that final scene devastated me. I sobbed for a half hour, actually gulping for breath because it touched my heart and echoed my actual life so deeply. Even if it doesn't have anywhere near that degree of connection to your own, this playful fantasy will entertain, and perhaps even make you think.
Being a solid fan of Shakespeare, open to interpreting his works and placing them in a modern context, and intrigued with inventive uses of cinematography, for me this striking film was a 'can't miss.' First of all, if you can't deal with the Bard's marvelous use of the English language of his time, then for God's sake, don't COMPLAIN about it! Just go back to your comic books, or whatever...I found it not at all difficult to follow the dialogue or the plot, despite the fact that I had never read this play. The time period seems to be either the present or the near future, and the director makes powerful use of the device of interspersing live action with media/videotaped versions of events. This lends an immediacy to the action that is a useful foil to merely seeing a filmed stage play. Ralph Fiennes is superb in his role--which is even more remarkable when you see in the credits that he Directed and Produced it as well. He brings the necessary fierceness and blind pride that his character demands. Vanessa Redgrave is the second most powerful actor, revealing the mixture of cunning and genuine love that drives the plotline. The first half of the film has a good deal of raw and bloody violence, bad for a child but what the story calls for. While the setting for the film remains that of the play, Rome and its environs, the viewer knows that is not what we are seeing. It is both vaguely familiar, but frustratingly not so. Some clues made me think of the recent strife in the Balkans, and sure enough, this was made in Serbia, with many Serbian individuals involved with making the film. Those recent conflicts based on ancient rivalries but with confusing and curious causes for a renewal of violence provides a meaningful parallel with Shakespeare's presentation of essentially meaningless warfare. This is a striking film and deserving of a much wider audience.
Oh boy is this ever a dated film, and a genuine turkey to boot. The key word here is "annoying." The characters (3 key ones) are annoying, the flimsy excuse for a plot is annoying, the music is annoying, the people on the island are annoying. Well, you get the idea. There is only one population that might enjoy watching this thing once, and that is men who enjoy looking at beautiful women. Here you'll find a heartbreakingly young Darryl Hannah (oh, but the ravages of 30 years of time combined with horrendous facelifts have been brutal). She was so gorgeous then, and had a figure that just wouldn't quit. The best part is that, as she is trying to start a career at this time, she sheds all of her clothes for several extended scenes, and looks damn good in a skimpy string bikini as well. OMG. There is a second woman, a rather eerily strange looking French actress (Vanessa Quintessen, who tragicaly died in a auto accident soon after the film was made). At times she looks pretty, at times almost scarily reptilian. And you have to like skinny women to enjoy her body when she too sheds her clothes (which she does at the drop of a hat). As a guy, I couldn't but help hate the smug Peter Gallagher and his lipsticked puffy lipped smile. His punishment for blatantly cheating on the sweet, sexy, and devoted Darryl is to get to bed BOTH of these ladies at the same time! Hell, in real life I got in trouble for just LOOKING at girls in bikinis, and I wasn't half as much as a jerk as he was. Everybody drinks a lot of wine, and the idea is that the magic of Santorini leads the sheltered American couple to join the worldy and 'what the hell I'll screw everyone I want to' French archaelogist in a bacchinalian orgy. Hate to use this overused term but, "it is what it is." I enjoyed it for shameful reasons. As a film, it is an embarassment to the industry.
This is likely one of the best films you've never seen. It's one of those "one of a kind" experiences, like "A Man and a Woman." The story is a riveting exploration of many types of love and how deeply this creates the fissures and pathways of our lives. To tell you more would be to deprive you of the experience of viewing the unfolding and unanticipated directions the journey takes you. Superb cinematography and inspired performance by the three major characters makes this one not to miss.
Given the state of the American audience, and the critics today who are collectively more likely to follow than lead that audience, the mixed bag of reviews this film received is not all that surprising. This is truly unfortunate in the case of this moving film. Here you will find none of the cynicism and mean-spiritedness that fills the screens and minds of most viewers today. There's a pivotal fire, but only one mini-explosion. No guns. No CGI. People actually like and LOVE each other in this neighborhood, set in 1976 (a kinder, gentler time that I remember well). But rather than being saccharine, as the skeptics trumpet, there is enough prejudicial misunderstanding (provided by the Irish firefighter husband and father of 8!) to balance out the innocent positivity and acceptance that prevails. Sure, its tearjerker aspect rivals that of any film which kills off a character or two. But here it is handled sensitively, and doesn't insult the audience. If you have any semblance of hope for human beings and their behavior toward others, you need to watch this film.
Critics and amateur reviewers alike appear to be so influenced by the genuine strength of Steinbeck's novel, and the generally admirable performances of Sinese and Malkovitch in other films, that they embraced this movie accordingly, not paying enough attention to what they actually saw on screen!
Casting Malkovitch as Lennie was preposterous. The character is supposed to be an imposing mountain of a man, immediately striking fear in all strangers. John is puny, even compared to the miniscule Sinese. This takes away ALL of the power of that character. We simply don't believe he could scare anyone, nor annoy and intimidate Curly. Sinese doesn't portray either the intelligence of George, nor his honest affection for Lennie. Sinese overplays his frustration (merely occasional in the book) to the point where I wanted to yell to Lennie onscreen "leave that rotten SOB!" The dialogue between the two, so powerful in the book, falls apart into an annoying exchange that seems like a phone call between a telemarketer and a reluctant customer. There are many important people at the camp, a rich panoply that focus the main duo and drive the eventual tragedy. But here none of them measure up to their key roles.
Why anyone would attempt to remake this film is beyond me. NOTHING could come close to the amazing black and white original with Burgess Meredith as George, and Lon Chaney Jr. as Lennie. Not only were they great actors, but they melded into their characters so naturally that one believes they are "watching' the novel rather than a movie. I read the book long before I saw that original, and when I finally did, it was as if the very people I imagined in my head appeared onscreen exactly as I thought they'd look and act. Skip this travesty at all costs!