Wednesday, June 14, 2006

'Yes'? ...

No.

L.A. Dave, who has a rather unsurpassed track record when it comes to recommending movies, sent me an earnest e-mail the other day about this movie, insisting that I immediately put it in my Netflix queue.

The description held promise. Food (one of the characters is a chef), sex (there's more than one affair going on), Big Life Issues (nothing says entertainment like a debate on when life beings for the purposes of stem cells and scientific research).

So I not only put it in my queue, I sent it right to the top. It arrived today. I started watching it tonight. The audio mix sucks. I had to turn on the closed captioning on my TV, more than once, to understand what was being said. (The DVD subtitles are only in French.) The photography is absurd. Jerky, slow-motion shots, would-be surveillance footage shots, odd camera angles so sets seem askew, "Hey, let's shoot Joan Allen through a drinking glass on a conference table" shots.

And symbolism? Ouch. My skull hurts from being beat over the head with it. The cold, austere home in which there is no love. The heartless husband who can only experience emotion through his collection of blues music. The cleaning woman (remember Jude from "Bridget Jones's Diary," the investment banker with the squeaky voice?) whose job it is to keep the home free of any human traces and who serves as a one-woman Greek chorus or deliverer of soliloquies, a la Shakespeare, to make sure we're getting the point.

But "Shakespeare" here is the key: The script is written in iambic pentameter. Sam Neill is doing a good job of delivering his lines in such a way that you don't notice the rhyme scheme as much, but it's there. Oh, it's there. And it comes off more like Dr. Seuss than Willie the Shake (as English Teacher Dave used to call him ... or maybe he still does).

It's paused right now, and the captured frame happens to be of Sam Neill playing air guitar. Sigh.

I'm debating whether or not to keep watching. I rarely leave a film half-watched. I feel compelled to watch and wait for it to get better, and then, as with books, by the time I realize "better" is not in the cards, I've invested enough time that I feel further compelled to see it through. But I've already taken to skipping through the movie by scene. At this rate, I should be done in about 10 more minutes.

But first, let's see what Rog had to say ...

Rog gave it four stars. He admires it for being daring and different.

I don't. I think it's trying too hard.

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