Monday, April 24, 2006
The Perfect Movie
Have you seen it? Here is a virtuoso feat of storytelling almost nonpareil. I gravitate towards movies which require viewers to stay alert, and this one rewards rapt attention in spades. It has every element of a great movie (unless one is addicted to Jerry Bruckheimer action, which almost by definition precludes movie greatness): it sports a most engaging story of big and small themes with a thousand deftly-handled subplots, all of which wrap up at the end like a Bach fugue; wonderful characters, each with something to hide, who are brilliantly fleshed-out in spite of having to share screen time with so many other cast members; a brilliant script which bears close scrutiny and delivers new little secrets with each viewing. There is deft use of music, and not as typical Hollywood mood-manipulation, but often as in-scene atmosphere, which serves to place us in the scene. The authenticities and attentions to detail serve to carry one along on a surprisingly broad-ranging experience, from laughable felicity to passing moments of great poignancy. Expectations are set up and dashed, and things unexpected seem to spring out from around each corner. No one is quite who they seem, and yet they all seem true to their natures (if that makes sense).
And such good, good performances, all wrought by God's Own Cast. Helen Mirren is a miracle. Eileen Atkins. Kelly MacDonald. Emily Watson. Alan Bates. Michael Gambon. Kristin Scott Thomas. Ryan Phillippe. Bob Balaban. The deliciously reprehensible Maggie Smith. Jeremy Northam. There's nary a weak link in the whole chain.
Do me a favor. Do yourself a favor. Get a big bowl of popcorn and turn the lights down and the sound up and treat yourself. This is what movies are all about.