About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Little Sit

Films don't need to be over two hours to be long sits, nor under two hours to fly by in the blink of an eye.

An example of the short but long sit:  The Deep Blue Sea, which I skipped when it opened in theatres, it didn't sound like a movie for me, but Moving Image was doing a screening and the film has gotten some award attention -- the lead actress Rachel Weisz won the NY Film Critics prize -- so why not?

It's too conscientiously arty.

I can't fault Weisz, she has previously gotten attention in The Constant Gardener and other films.  But her role here is thankless.  London, a few years after WWII, still fresh in mind, there's a reminiscence of she and her husband hanging out being serenaded in the Aldwych tube station during one of the bombing runs.  Not really her husband now, he left her after finding out she is having an affair.  The other man had forgotten her birthday which inspires a suicide attempt, the film takes place over the next 24 hours with abundant flashbacks like the tube scene to stretch it out.  Alas, the time is being stretched with characters that are hard to spend time with.  She doesn't have much self awareness, too much of the movie you wonder what she's thinking, why she's doing things. As much as we don't like her, we also don't feel for her cuckolded husband, he seems harsh and judgmental, and there's a good scene of her visiting his mother's, and the mother-in-law is icy and quick with a gentle civilized dagger thrust in words. The boyfriend, we don't get a good idea what he one saw in her or what she ever saw of him, this question came up in the Q&A with Weisz afterwards and the suggestion was maybe they were having good sex, but there isn't any visible passion in the film.  So you get flashbacks, a long dream sequence at the beginning, swells of a Samuel Barber concerto in the score.

The palate is very dark and dreary until she opens the window on a bright new day at the end.  The first question in the Q&A is about the criticism from some critics that she doesn't die at the end (maybe not the decision of writer/director Terrence Davies, as the film is based on a play by Terence Ratigan), and I think it's a legitimate criticism.  The character's decision to act like she can put the past behind and welcome a new dawn isn't true to this character.  It doesn't mean, as Rachel Weisz's response to the question implied, that critics think any woman who tries too hard for uplift should end tragically.  The tragic end fits this woman in this movie.

There's a lot of craft and care in the film, it's artistic in its way, but it's shame for all the art to be in the service of such an unpleasant bunch of people to be around.

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