I must admit in advance that this film was chosen purely by default, and that I am the first to acknowledge my own lack of patience and tolerance for anything that will not arrest my senses in a very visceral and real way. I am very demanding. However in saying this, I did possess an obscene fascination and curiosity for this movie, based solely on the fact that, while on paper it sounded tedious, boring and ultimately unsatisfying, it had achieved an excessive amount of lauding, and I had yet to find a negative review.
It is true that I am a cynical bastard, however, I also stand firm that the best way to enter a movie is with low expectations…
This, despite my best attempts at being objective, did not work.
While I concede it is brave, and an interesting premise, to create a film that conflicts with the general demands of current cinema, I also think that the public have developed a much more complex receptive criteria to be entertained, and that if one is to use an old and incredibly archaic method of portraying a story, merely going through the motions, and ticking all the boxes for that method, just simply won’t cut it.
I was waiting for that defining moment, where Michel Hazanavicius smirked ironically at the genre of cinema he was so blatantly plagiarising, and finally created something new, something exciting, something innovative. There was one point in the middle of the movie (if you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I am referring to), where I was sure we had reached a turning point, but it was nothing more than a glimpse of what could have been.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some beautifully framed shots and, in some cases, an artful use of old school cinema technique that must be remarked upon – the long shot of the staircase, where Valentin descends down and Millar ascends up, was a striking visual and symbolic display – however, weak in comparison to the endless possibilities that were at Hazanavicius’ disposal.
To put it plainly, this is a very basic, uninventive story, married with a flat and unchallenging format, and tied neatly together with uninteresting and badly acted characters. Simply arguing that over-acting is a prerequisite to an authentic silent movie is irrelevant, because that is just old hat at this stage.
If this was filmed in the 20’s, it would indeed be a masterpiece.
But it wasn’t.