movies


As John Wick: Chapter 2 is on screens and gets unexpected good reviews and not only from fans, I thought that it’s a good opportunity to see the first and original John Wick which also received some positive echos, much above what is typically delivered for a film in its genre. It’s certainly a matter of setting expectations, but I personally was not disappointed. If violent action movies are one of the genres that entertain you, good chances that you will not be disappointed either.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2911666/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2911666/

 

Rule #1 to enjoy such a film is to accept the conventions of the genre. The story takes place in the parallel universe of the crime underworld. Although bodies start to accumulate in piles pretty soon, there is no policeman in view with the exception of one cop showing up at one point, looking at the scene of the carnage and wishing good evening to the hero who happens to be a professional killer. This parallel universe is not lawless, it’s just that the laws or better said the rules are different. There is a code of honor, there are territories of neutrality, and there is only one punishment – death – for breaking rules or trespassing borders. At the roots of the story stands a failed tentative by the main hero to break the cycle of violence of his profession and jump in the universe of normal people. All this is just memories when the action starts. This film is for what ‘Jack Reacher’ is for Tom Cruise and I suspect that at some point even taking the name of the hero as a title is not a coincidence. It’s the start of a series and the second installment was not too late to come.

 

(video source Lionsgate Movies)

 

Assuming you bought into the story and the convention, there is some good stuff to enjoy. Stuntman is sitting for the first time on the film director chair and he delivers exactly what is expected – a coherent story telling and perfect choreography of the many action scenes that occupy more than half of the duration of the movie. delivers what is expected, and a few other fine actors show up in small and even smaller supporting roles. Cinematography is just beautiful, with combinations of dark colors that fit well the violent dark universe that they populate. If you can just forget how sketchy the whole story (or pretext) of the film is, you have good reasons to enjoy it.

 

I have somehow avoided seeing There Will Be Blood for ten years despite its success, and despite having as lead actor who got his second Academy Award for this role. The reason is that I was under the impression that this is one of those Big American Sagas which make great impression at the Oscars but seldom have convinced me to jump on their ship of emotions. This is true to some extent, as the film deals with the period of the beginning of oil drilling in the United States, the very important difference being that this saga has not an American Hero but and American Anti-Hero as main character. Which probably makes the film even more interesting.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469494/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469494/

 

The story takes starts before the turn of the 19th to the 20th century and ends in the late 1920s, following the raising of an oil magnate from his first discovery of one oil pit to his taking over a small empire of oil fields and the building of the pipes that ensure the transportation. Daniel Plainview, the character played by Day-Lewis seems to come from nowhere and grows from being nothing to the status of a millionaire. Achieving this takes not only luck and a complete lack of any scruples in dealing with competitors, friends or his very close ones – it also takes his soul. The story is kind of Faustian, it’s just that Satan never shows up, or maybe he is there during the whole story under the form of the black gold. The script is loosely based on a novel by Upton Sinclair, with the difference that while in the Socialist writer novel the emphasis is on the social aspects with a critical view of the Capitalist system, in this adaptation it’s the moral aspects that prevail, with Planview’s character finding a counterpart and nemesis in preacher Eli Sunday (). It’s the material world faced with the possible spiritual salvation, another Faustian theme if you wish, but the preacher character eventually proves to be as corrupt and empty in substance as its arch-rival, which makes it unable to fulfill its goal. The destinies of the two are interleaved and they both end in damnation. Director opens here a theme which he will continue in his next great picture The Master which offered the opportunity of incarnating one of his last greatest roles.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailer Vault)

 

At the end of the day, telling the story of an American hero or of an American anti-hero does not look that different. It is still one of these sagas starting in the days of the rush for gold and ending when the rush for the black gold – the oil – stabilizes into the big corporations consolidations. The lead hero does not seem to have real roots in history or a specific place, and he needs none as most of the attention is focused on its deeds, mostly evil, with the exception of the personal survival story that is being told in the first 15 minutes. As any saga that respects itself it’s long, which in cinema today means more that two and a half hours, which according to tastes and attention pass more or less easy. ‘s performance is superb, he fills the screen with his personality to the point that the balance between his character and the one played by is broken in his favor. Dano acts well but he just cannot raise to the height and intensity of Day-Lewis. There Will Be Blood is one of those movies which cannot be really placed in a specific box, or in more than one – they just build to themselves a category and a name of their own.

 

 

Films are one good media for taking the pulse of a society at a certain moment in time, for surfacing explicitly or implicitly its problems, for making it known beyond borders of countries or cultures. Iran is a country little and badly known in the world. We may read or listen a lot about its politicians and external conflicts, we know very little about the day-to-day life in the country, about the problems, feelings and dreams of its people. This is why films coming from Iran raise interest and those coming from a fine film-maker as Ashgar Farhadi are among the best.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5186714/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5186714/

 

Watching a film like The Salesman is an exercise not too different than the one we experience(d) when we are (were) watching in the 60s, 70s, 80s films coming from the Soviet Union, Poland, or other countries under Communist rule. It is important to watch what you see on screen to its most minuscule detail that can hide hints or symbols. It is even more important to think about what you cannot see on screen, which you know could not be said because of censorship, or maybe it was said and fell on the floor because of different types of pressure. This film is the story of a family drama triggered by the brutal attack on a married woman. She and her husband (both middle class intellectuals, amateur actors playing ‘Death of a Salesman’ in the evenings’) do not go to the police to put a complain because they know the system is corrupt and biased against the woman, rather then protecting her and trying to find and punish the criminal. We are in the Middle East however, and honor plays an important role, so the husband engages in a personal vendetta which has as a goal not necessarily vengeance but recovering the honor of the victim and exposing the attacker to the blame of his own family. The subtle insertion of theater in film hints to many other aspects that are rather implicit than explicit – the attraction to the Western culture, the cosmetic changes brought to the play, actors, costumes in order to make it acceptable to the Islamic religious norms.

 

(video source Amazon Studios)

 

There is another comparison to be made with another film that was a candidate this year at the Best Foreign Language Award at the Academy (which The Salesman won) - ‘s Elle. In both films we deal with aftermaths of brutal attacks on women – but what a difference between the attitude of the two women – and the reasons are clearly psychological and cultural.

The film-making style looks familiar to viewers who have been exposed to Middle East cinema. The story telling, some of the dialogues, the relations between the characters reminded me dome of the Israeli ‘burekas’ movies, with families and neighbors interaction, with the mix of comedy and melodrama. Director develops this approach much beyond its limits, aiming to reach a more international audience with the relation to Arthur Miller’s play. He is helped by the splendid acting of his two lead actors and  who both give expressive and discrete performances, full of controlled passion and dignity, which make the tough situations described on screen more easy to follow. I was less impressed by the final solution where life seems to follow its own rule and the characters lose voice in face of stronger forces. This sounded a little anti-climax and undecided. I will not say however more, in order to avoid telling too much about a film I do recommend to all viewers.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is the kind of movie which I would probably have never seen unless I was on a trans-Atlantic flight, too tired to read but still sleepless, and prisoner of the Lufthansa movie list. I mildly admire  (mainly for past achievements, past meaning from another millennium) and I have no special rejection of action movies provided they make sense and offer something more than gun or fist fights and car races. So I went for this film, the result could have been worse, but also much better.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3393786/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3393786/

 

 

Director Edward Zwick took a few ambitious themes in the past, with mixed results. Glory may have been his … moment of glory, but then followed The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond, and Defiance – all very ambitious projects but only partial successes. Here his ambitions are much lower, as Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is the second in a series which tends to be quite repetitive – wild action with corrupt military portrait-ed as the bad guys and one (or even more) ladies in distress to help. An extra element is added here – Reacher may or may not be the father of one of the ladies to be saved and spared any pain at any cost. Not a very original story, to be candid.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

What are we left with? A well made violent action movie and a moralistic story that seems even less credible than the amount of fist-beaten bad guys that are badly damaged during the screening time. The talent (and the price paid to enroll it) of Tom Cruise are not well spent here.

I cannot help it. Every film she shines in (because this is what stars do – they shine) ends by being about her. The great actress who is and lives on screen as every character she is incarnating, who makes this character an unforgettable person which you may love or hate, worship, despise or pity, but always remember. Of course, I am speaking about Meryl Streep. What a luck for us, movie viewers, to be her contemporaries!

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4136084/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4136084/

 

Florence Foster Jenkins was a real person, involved in the social and musical life of the first half of the 20th century in New York. She had a real passion for music, and enough money to pay for this passion, including helping and promoting musicians and musical events. Her only little sin was that she had the ambition to sing and her talent did not match her ambition. She had passion though, and was protected by a loving (and apparently platonic) husband who was hiding from her the bitter truth about her skills. The film is about the balance between passion and talent, and is also about the very special forms real love sometimes takes.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

This combination of biopics and melodrama worked incredibly well for me. This was of course because of the  tremendous talent and amazing performance of , but not only. I also found to be charming and funny in the role of the pianist who is hired to play with the strident diva. is aging well and fits wonderfully in the role of the husband, and all the show is directed with British elegance by . This is a film to enjoy, one of the better ones of the Academy Awards season. Watch it. You may learn that the ways of Art and the ways of Love are sometimes as mysterious as the ways of God.

 

The Japanese master is credited for the original script (and remarkable movie) Seven Samurai made in 1954. Six years later an American remake named The Magnificent Seven provided one of the exception of that rule too often true which says that Hollywood remakes are much worse pictures than the non-American original movies they are based upon. ‘ film was actually very good (in my opinion) because of the presence of great action movies stars like , , and because it translated well the code of honor of the samurais in the rules of ethics that made eventually the lawless Wild West into a cradle of an efficient and lawful society. So the question may be asked – why do another Hollywood remake in 2016. One answer is of course – because more than half a century passed and the Western evolved. The problem is that in processing the script for the 21st century the writers and producers felt the need to add a dimension that was practically absent from the previous 7s – multiculturalism. And so, in two hops, we get from the mono-cultural Japanese saga with samurais to an internationalized (and PC – suspect) story that may fit some of the 21st century taste, but seems less credible in a 19th century setting.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2404435/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2404435/

 

The team of mercenaries assembled by law man to protect the citizens of the city threatened to be taken over by an avid landlord and his army includes almost all the races and nations that populate the America of that time in an ‘international’ team that will work, fight and (some) die flawlessly. Nice idea, but lacking credibility. Worse – all with the exception of ‘s character lack consistency, they are more the stereotype that they are supposed to represent than real characters we get to care about, even when they are hurt or die.

 

(video source Sony Pictures Entertainment)

 

Otherwise, it’s a good action movie, respecting the basic rules of the action Western films. One cannot expect to provide anything but a fine performance. He worked with director in The Equalizer and was lucky for a more consistent and complex role there. was also present in The Equalizer, here, in The Magnificent Seven she seems to be a little too young and a little too pretty for the role of the beautiful widow who gathers the team of mercenaries. Fine actors as or get too little substance in their roles to be remembered. The action scenes are reasonably well made, but there is nothing special to remember the day after the screening.

The ‘Wild’ West at the end of the 19th century was many things, but what it was not was a multi-cultural and tolerant society. One can describe it as such, but this smells of historical revisionism or political correctness. The West may have been populated by different nationalities, but they were far from equal and far from living and acting in harmony – this is the historical truth. Taking into account that today’s American society is as well far from having overcome all its traumas related to its attitude towards race and minorities, maybe such an alternate view can be regarded as an act of balancing. All good, but this does not automatically translate into good cinema.

Navele spaţiale aflate în lungi călătorii între stele au devenit unul dintre decorurile preferate ale filmelor şi serialelor de televiziune cam în a doua jumătate a anilor 60, odată cu intrarea în producţie a unor seriale ca ‘Star Trek’ şi a unor filme de avengură pentru marile ecrane cum a fost ’2001: A Space Oddissey’ regizat de Stanley Kubrick. Sudiourile mai mici şi mai mari au adăugat apartamentelor din Manhattan, satelor din vestul sălbatic sau coloanelor forumurilor romane şi punţile de comandă, coridoarele şi cabinele pasagerilor călătoriilor spaţiale ca decoruri şi recuzite folosite şi refolosite. În timp aceste decoruri s-au diversificat, specializat şi diferenţiat pe genuri, unele dintre ele reprezentând adevărate creaţii artistice în sine – un exemplu fiind cele din seria ‘Alien’ create de artistul suprarealist elveţian Hans Rudolph (HR) Giger.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1355644/mediaviewer/rm562235136

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1355644/mediaviewer/rm562235136

 

Filmul ‘Passengers’ regizat de norvegianul Morten Tyldum pe un scenariu scris de Jon Spaihts se petrece pe o astfel de nava spaţială numită Avalon. (Numele provine din mitologia celtică şi mai exact din povestea regelui Arthur, este numele insulei legendare unde a fost plămădită sabia Excalibur). Este vorba despre o uriaşă navetă care transportă 5000 de pasageri spre colonia Homestead II aflată la mare distanţă de Terra. Detaşându-se de genul filmelor post-apocaliptice suntem avertizaţi de la început că această colonizare este rezultatul unei decizii luate în mod ordonat şi că totul este OK pe pământ. În fapt, pare a fi vorba despre o perioadă paşnică în evoluţia umanităţii, fără conflicte interne sau ameninţări externe. Este loc deci pentru dragoste. Şi în fapt, ‘Passengers’ asta este – o poveste de dragoste care se petrece în spaţiul interstelar.

 

  sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1355644/mediaviewer/rm2911648256


sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1355644/mediaviewer/rm2911648256

 

Călătoria ar fi trebuit să dureze 120 de ani, şi este realizată la o viteză de croazieră care reprezintă jumătate din viteză luminii. Asta înseamnă că cei care se îmbarca în această aventură îşi părăsesc pentru totdeauna planeta natală, prietenii şi familia. Chiar dacă ar lua o cursa de întoarcere a doua zi după sosirea pe Homestead II ar găsi la revenirea pe Pământ o omenire mai bătrână cu 240 de ani plus timpul ‘compresat’ din cauza călătoriei la viteze comparabile cu viteză luminii (asta comform teoriei relativităţii). Atingerea unor asemenea viteze este la ora actuală dincolo de posibilităţile tehnologiei , deşi sunt cunoscute teoretic cel puţin două tipuri de motoare (cu propulsie fotonică şi cu antimaterie) care vor putea fi folosite în viitor. Interiorul navei spaţiale imaginate de creatorii filmului combină utilitarismul tehnic (celulele individuale criogenice, punţile de comandă unde accesul este permis doar personalului de bord autorizat, sala maşinilor asemănătoare cu sălile motoarelor pacheboturilor) şi spaţiul comun în care nu au dispărut diferenţele de preţ şi clase sociale. Cam ca pe un uriaş Titanic, există servicii şi menu-uri accesibile doar pasagerilor care au plătit biletele mai scumpe. Omenirea poate că nu mai are probleme conflictuale acute interne sau externe, dar diferenţierile dintre clasele sociale nu au fost nici ele şterse în acest viitor descris de scenaristul ‘Pasagerilor’. Ca o consolare, barul este totuşi gratuit pentru toţi pasagerii şi deservit de un robot android (jucat de Michael Sheen) care este şi un bun partener de conversaţie (puţin cam vorbăreţ câteodată) şi un gentleman. Exteriorul navei spaţiale este dotat cu un scut protector care ar trebui să apere nava, aparatele de pe ea şi pe pasageri de orice tulburente de meteorologie spaţială (ca să le numim aşa) cum ar fi furtunile stelare sau zonele populate de meteoriţi. Asta până când se intapla o problemă, şi între consecinţele ei, un pasager, un inginer mecanic din statul Colorado pe nume Jim Preston (actorul se numeşte Chris Pratt) este trezit prea devreme. Mai exact după ‘doar’ 30 de ani, cu 90 de ani înainte de sosirea la destinaţie, ceea ce înseamnă practic că nu va ajunge niciodată acolo.

 

sursa imaginii https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryonics

sursa imaginii https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryonics

 

Pentru a supravetui călătoriei şi presupunând că viaţa omenească nu a fost prelungită mult dincolo de limitele actuale, pasagerii lui Avalon sunt supuşi crionicii sau crioprezervării (prezervarea la temperaturi extrem de scăzute), existenţa lor fiind suspendată pentru cea mai mare parte a călătoriei. Tehnologia această există deja în lumea noastră, dar nu este încă verificată, şi din punct de vedere legal este permisă (acolo unde este permisă) numai după constatarea morţii clinice. În 2014, în Statele Unite, aproximativ 250 de persoane erau deja îngheţate la temperaturi de până la -196C şi aproximativ 1500 făcuseră aranjamente pentru a intra în crioprezervare imediat după moarte. În marea majoritate a cazurilor este vorba despre persoane care suferă de boli astăzi incurabile şi care speră că 1. procesul este reversibil, deci vor putea fi readuşi la viaţă cândva în viitor 2. bolile de care suferă îşi vor fi găsit tratamentele adecvate. Realitatea este că până în acest moment ipoteza #1 nu a fost verificată, nu este cunoscut efectul prezervării organismelor vii sau recent încetate din viaţă pe durate lungi. Pregătirea corpului omenesc pentru hibernare la temperaturi extrem de joase este o procedură mult mai intrusivă şi aparatură mult mai puţin elegantă decât cea care apare în film, unde fiecare din cei 5000 de pasageri şi membri ai echipajului au o celulă individuală, trezirea din hibernare nu pare mai complicată decât o simplă recuperare post-operatorie, şi călătorii sunt ghidaţi de asistente holografice dotate cu destulă informaţie şi inteligenţă artificială pentru a răspunde întrebărilor şi nevoilor imediate şi destul de puţină informaţie şi inteligenţă artificială pentru a nu putea răspunde întrebărilor critice puse de cei treziţi fără voia lor mult prea devreme din hibernarea criogenică.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1355644/mediaviewer/rm2844539392

sursa imaginii http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1355644/mediaviewer/rm2844539392

 

Povestea de dragoste între inginerul mecanic jucat de Chriss Pratt şi jurnalista new-yorkeză jucată de frumoasa actriţa Jennifer Lawrence (deja laureată cu un premiu Oscar) este elementul central al poveştii. Este o poveste cam vinovată, căci eroina a fost de fapt trezită intenţionat de erou după un an şi mai bine de singurătate, ceea ce declanşează povestea romantică dar şi ucide posibilitatea că ea să mai ajungă la destinaţie. Nu voi dezvălui mai mult şi nu voi spune decât că legătura nu mi s-a părut prea convingătoare în pofida unor scene filmate foarte bine, şi că ultima parte a poveştii alunecă în drama spaţială de acţiune fără elemente originale.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.space.com/35133-how-realistic-ship-from-passengers.html

sursa imaginii http://www.space.com/35133-how-realistic-ship-from-passengers.html

 

Am rămas din acest film cu imagini excepţionale din punct de vedere cinematografic – eu am văzut filmul în viziune 3D, dar cred că şi văzut în 2D este destul de spectaculos. Splendide sunt şi scenele din interior unde cuplul de eroi tineri au la îndemână un întreg Titanic pe care sunt singurii trezi alături de alţi 4998 de pasageri cufundaţi într-un somn adânc. Senzaţionale sunt mai ales scenele din exterior, unde eroii, dacă este să continuăm paralela, privesc de pe puntea pachebotului interstelar întregul univers aflat la picioarele lor.

Concluzia – un film de science-fiction mai mult decât rezonabil, o poveste de dragoste în împrejurări şi împrejurimi speciale care nu reuşeşte să convingă până la capăt, şi câteva momente de mare frumuseţe pentru care merită încercată experienţă vizionării.

 

(articolul a aparut in revista culturala Literatura de Azi – http://www.literaturadeazi.ro/ )

What happens when an undercover CIA agent and the investigative journalist who is exposing her to the broad public are both dedicated mothers of kids who learn together in the same well established American urban milieu? What happens when everybody does the right thing and yet the personal lives of the people involved are destroyed or worse? What is the price that is worth paying for following one’s principles – family, freedom, life? These are some of the questions that are being asked in Nothing But the Truth, the 2008 film directed by .

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1073241/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1073241/

 

Despite the disclaimer that starts the film the story is obviously inspired by a true case and the lead character by a true person – Judith Miller, a New York Times reporter who served 85 days in prison for refusing to name her source in a case where the name of a government agent was made public. It can also be seen as a strong feminist story, as all the key involved persons (the journalist, her redactor-in-chief boss, and the CIA agent) are all women, while the system of justice persons (the prosecutor, the lawyer, the judge) are all men. The story tells about political reporter Rachel Armstrong () getting under pressure to disclose the source of the information she published about the real identity of a CIA agent, actually a whistle-blower whose revelations are covered up. The clash is between the journalism ethics and the government secrecy, as what is perceived by the journalist as protection of her sources is from the legal point of view a possible crime of disclosing the identity of the agents. The price is however to be paid by both women in their personal life, although the film mostly focuses on the fate of the reporter. How far will she go to respect her principles?

 

(video source MovieTrailersOn)

 

The specialty of director  seems to be in political films, but here he succeeds to create not only an interesting intrigue and ask the tough questions, but also to build a credible character drama that exceeds the strict borders of the story. Lurie also wrote the script and the story flows well and is helped by an efficient team of actors.  Best are in the lead role and as the prosecutor. The resulting film is both entertaining and raises interesting issues, it’s a politically-motivated film that avoids being dry and rhetorical by focusing on the human dimensions of the story.

 

 

The buzz is high, the prizes started to accumulate. They tell however more about the status of the industry and the longing of the public for escapist entertainment combined with a high dose of nostalgia for the musical successes that were running high 60 or 70 years ago. La La Land directed by combines a well known formula, makes reverences to the golden period of the musical films in Hollywood (some scenes were filmed in the studio were Fred Astaire once was filmed) but also to some more modern film makers and their ideas (like ), and enjoys the participation of shining stars like and . It may be sufficient for collecting statuettes. It is not enough to make it a real good film. I know I am in a minority expressing this opinion now. I believe that it will be a growing minority soon.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3783958/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3783958/

 

What we get with La La Land a collection of a few wonderful moments connected by an awfully schematic story. Boy meets girl, of course. Boy is an aspiring jazz musician in a time when real jazz seems to be in a descending slope of interest, Girl is an aspiring actress, waiting in a Starbucks (or like) coffee shop and auditioning in a serial and desperate manner. They both have visions and passion. They both aspire to careers, but life is tough and art and success seldom meet for one person and almost never with personal happiness. Or true love. From here on the story accumulates many of the possible stereotypes and too little artistic truth. Great scenes are not missing – actually this film has a number of memorable quotes, the problem is the rosy sweet materials on between. There is also one great idea that I liked – who does it belong to? script writers or director – the non-reality scenes are drawn in music and dance. The ones from the films in the 40s and 50s.

 

(video source Lionsgate Movies)

 

When jazz is played however, it’s different. Jazz music is also about being true, great jazzmen do not lie when they play music. Sebastian () explaining to Mia () what jazz is about is one of the best scenes I have ever seen about jazz. The problem is that this is not a jazz movie. As much as I love and appreciate their chemistry on screen is not enough to sustain the film, and it actually makes their breaking (and the break away scene) even less credible.

Just to be clear – La La Land is not a bad movie.   is at his third film, the two other were also one way or the other related to music. Whiplash was welcome with ravishing critics and a very high IMDB rating.  La La Land however belongs to a very different category. In the thin air of the ideas and good cinema of the last years it will get a lot of prizes in the next couple of months. Many of them are not deserved. I write this by respect for what the film is (and is not) and for what the Academy, BAFTA, or Golden Globe awards should be. I am expecting more and better films about music from . Maybe a great jazz movie.

There are a few missed opportunities in The Girl on the Train directed by bringing to screen ‘s successful novel. The story starts like a voyeuristic drama involving three women (two of them resembling each other), two houses (resembling each other as well in a suburban area), two men, and one train which is the moving observation point from which flashes of the reality are perceived. Details are not clear from the beginning, the story builds up and so does our understanding of the characters and the drama that is taking place, which soon turns into a disappearance case. All this gradual assimilation of the events by the viewer is not a bad thing, it’s not an easy viewing, but it’s challenging intellectually and the later developments and its solution are eventually rewarding. There is however something ‘heavy’ in the director’s style that adds extra and unnecessary obstacles between the heroes and the viewers.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3631112/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3631112/

 

I did not read (yet) the book that inspired the film, but my understanding is that much if its interest derives from the fact that the story is told alternatively by the three women, each with her subjective point of view, each holding piece of the reality the way she sees it (or deforms it). The film tries to start this way using off-voice screen (which seldom works for me) but soon moves the weight center of the story to Rachel’s character played by . We gradually come to know her as a broken person, victim of a disastrous marriage, alcoholic, voyeuristic, unable to forget and continuing to be obsessed by the life and the husband she lost. As the story develops she becomes involved as a witness, as a detective, as a prime suspect in the disappearance turning into a murder case. The cinematographic version of The Girl on the Train is very much a story about Rachel, about her obsessions and her fight to recover her own self.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

The story offers the opportunity for three major and consistent feminine roles, an opportunity which only uses well. This is not necessarily because or are bad actors. but because the way they are directed is much more conventional and lacks complexity. The other surprise in acting is , who acts the other prime suspect, and the man who eventually will disperse the part of the fog on what really happened and who really Rachel is. The rest is left by the script (maybe also by the book) to fate.

Director does not lack some good directing ides. See for example the alternate usage of fixed or hand-held camera, sometimes in the the same scene or filming the two actors of a dialog, He fails in constructing a better paced story telling. Some of this may be intentional in order to leave to viewers gradually discovering what the story is about. They did not lose me, but they risk losing many other viewers in search of an entertaining thriller. Trading pace and action for psychology is a risky proposal nowadays. I do not believe that the director won the bet.

« Previous PageNext Page »