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Forum namePass The Popcorn
Topic subjectThe first twenty minutes or so were the best part.
Topic URLhttp://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=6&topic_id=634879&mesg_id=647064
647064, The first twenty minutes or so were the best part.
Posted by Frank Longo, Mon Apr-15-13 10:24 AM
>Because I know many people, myself included, who would
>disagree with this statement:
>>Love is only present because they keep saying
>>love in the narration. We never see it.
>The love is palpable in the Paris scenes, and a friend of mine
>who saw this with me called first scenes in Texas when they're
>playing with the lampshades over their heads "domestic bliss
>After that, though (almost all of the movie) the love is
>absent, so of course you're not going to see much of it.

They struck a note at the beginning. She is full of strong emotion and childlike wonder. He isn't, he's just sort of quiet and observant, but I assumed he would show more as the film went.

And for me, he didn't. Affleck is the least ideal Malick protag I've ever seen, because he doesn't come across as pensive at all-- he's just kind of a lunk. I felt absolutely nothing coming from him the entire film. Which in a film about relationships... is a problem.

>I personally think this can be disputed:
>>All other Malick films are far superior in terms of
>>People compare this one to Tree of Life, but
>>Pitt, Chastain, and most certainly the kids had
>>emotional complexity, and a series of tangible life events
>>could root their growth and development in.
>I think I'd argue that the "series of life events" in this
>movie is AT LEAST as tangible as those in Tree of Life.
>SPOILERS: They fall in love. They move to America. The
>relationship begins to fracture. The daughter moves back
>home. Olga travels to France and Ben has an brief affair with
>a former flame. Olga comes back and they get married. The
>relationship continues to decay, and they get divorced.
>Stylistically it might be a little more abstract than TOL, but
>in terms of the actually stuff that happens, it's more "plot
>based" (or at least more linear) than TOL.

I put the word tangible in there very intentionally. I agree that events do take place here. We get the who and the what. But we rarely get the why and the how. When we do, it's simplistic to the point of monotony. He struggles with expressing emotion, she overflows with it. I don't doubt that the Malick style could work in building a seemingly idyllic relationship before breaking it down, but their interaction is virtually non-existent. There are countless moments of running away from people,staring away at people, or existing in the same vicinity as people posed as to state away from them to make a pretty picture. If the characters don't shine, then Malick's style which I normally love begins to feel obnoxiously false.

The depiction of women, for example. A one-note flitty pixie dream girl who leaves her daughter overseas to be with the man who rarely expresses emotion on screen. Why? I realize sometimes in life one doesn't know why one falls for another, but in a movie, you kind of need the why, especially when such melodramatic heights are reached.

Then we have the independent working woman, working hard on the ranch, as a refreshing counter-point to the woman who spins and flits incessantly... but she too suddenly expresses wanting to be his wife. Why? All we've seen is them bang once or twice and her watch him do his oil work a couple of times. We hear him say he knew her from back in the day, and she's a strong working woman, so we understand his attraction to her. Why no vice versa? Why are we to just assume Silent Affleck is a partner worthy of two women bending their lives backwards to be with?

Finally, after we got the scene of Olga running outside hysterical screaming "HE'S KILLING ME" followed by the slut-shaming sequence, it just started to feel like Malick telling a personal story in which Affleck as the Malick figure is the presumed person of interest because why not? He's a pensive handsome man, and while he's super emotionally constipated, at least he didn't fuck a carpenter once.

Am I reading too far into the depiction of women and why Malick chose to depict them as such? Possibly. But when the male protagonist contributes basically nothing and the women are so one-note, I struggled to find other more complex reads.

>>This one, I nearly walked out.
>I guess I'm just really surprised that you disliked this
>enough to nearly walk out, because that's a REALLY STRONG
>amount of dislike. Maybe I'll end up being the only defender
>of this in PTP, but I do know a few other people who really
>liked it in real life.
>I definitely thought there was plenty you could take away from
>the movie if you wanted to. It probably feels rather small
>and maybe even slight in the shadow of Tree of Life, but
>that's fine with me.

I wanted to desperately, as I've loved every other Malick. No reason for me to not like it in advance-- I assumed it'd be great. It's unquestionably slight compared to Tree of Life, but most films are compared to a film that shows the creation of the universe, lol. My problem wasn't scale... In fact, my problem might be it's not as intimate as Tree of Life. Tree of Life had family relationships that were complex, that were troubled, yet were unquestionably rooted in deep love. The lampshade scene is domestic bliss... if you feel the relationship feels real. Otherwise, it's simplistic to the point of obnoxiousness. (Perhaps my least favorite "aren't they cute?" shot is Olga touching the dirt on the ground and putting it to her face. Simplistic depiction of pixie charm to the point of cartoonish.)

Maybe the casting needs to be blamed, especially Affleck. Maybe the editing needs to be blamed. Maybe Malick's style of shooting was destined to one day result in a film that was nothing more than pretty, because you can't strike gold every time with that improvisational fix-it-together-in-editing-room technique. I don't know.

All I know is me no likey. And outside of appreciating the cinematography, I doubt it's a grower for me.