This movie has been very well received and is nominated for eight Oscars, five of which are technical for design, sound, editing etc. The three big ones are Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Okay… all that said I am very nervous to write this review. I did not like this movie. It I like Close Encounters of the Third Kind in terms of the message but is not nearly close to being as good. I think some critics like it because it is not Alien or other thriller type Sci-Fi. It has pretensions of being cerebral but it was boring, contrived, and the ending was just stupid and really disappointing. Amy Adams is the lead and her performance has been praised but thank God the Academy had enough sense not to nominate her for Best Actress because while good, she is not amazing and the role is dumb like the movie. Villeneuve is Canadian and I have liked and disliked his films. Sicario is very good but Prisoners was really disappointing. Incendies which made his career was okay. He is working on a sequel of Blade Runner, not a remake but a story set 30 or 40 years in the future from the original. It will star Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. I am worried because Blade Runner was awesome but this?… I am not sure this is wise.
This film is all about Denzel Washington. He produced, directed and acted the lead role. He managed to capture three Oscar nominations: Himself as Best Actor, his co-star Viola Davis for Best Supporting Actress and for August Wilson for the screenplay based on his Broadway play of the same name. Wilson passed away in 2005 and I have to assume the script for the film is very close to the original. Both actors performed the same roles in a Broadway revival a few years ago earning Tony awards for their portrayals. The movie covers a few months in the lives of a black family in Pittsburgh in 1957 and, like Manchester by the Sea, is difficult to watch as the family self destructs around the actions of Washington’s character who plays the father but comes together again at the end by the strength of the mother. Her soliloquy at the end of the film as she confronts her son’s anger reminded me in power at least of Linda Loman at the end of Death of a Salesman. The knock on the film has been that it fails to adequately transform the story from the stage to the screen but this is picky. The performances are all very good and while I do not expect them to win Oscars to put beside the Tony awards, they are compelling. I hesitate to recommend films like this because it is not escapist entertainment but will leave you thinking and if you are up for that kind of entertainment don’t hesitate to have a look.