Sophie's Choice Reviews
I did like this film though, even if I don't see it as beign a real cinematic masterpiece or anything. Maybe had the film focused more on the Holocaust stuff and less on the post war stuff, or maybe had they taken the titular moment and made it the real centerpiece or something I could find this film to be more brilliant, or at least as brilliant as the performances.
That's all anyone seems ot talk about here are the performances, well, mostly Streep's. It's true, this is her greatest achievement as an actress, and this is a beuatiful turn she gives as a Holocaust survivor with a really dark past. The others are good too though. I used to think that peter MacNicol was only good at playing the creep in Ghostbusters II; I'm happy to report that he does a really good job here as well. Kevin Kline gives a remarkable performance as a really unbalanced man with whom you can never predict what he will say or do next. They both get overshadowed by Streep, but that's kinda understandable.
I liked the music, and the look was decent, but the stroy just didn't quite have me like maybe it should have. I'm no ogre. The scene where the film gets it's title is a very heartbreaking and emotional scene-I just wish the rest of the film could have been as focused and stirring. Maybe they could have trimmed some of the running time in the process.
All in all, a decent film, but nothing extremely remarkable, although that goes for the film as a whole, and not the individual parts that make it up. You should see this if only for the acting. One may think that such a statement is overrated, but I disagree. The work here (mostly Streep's) will forever be one of the greatest examples of successful acting ever committed to film.
It's not a 'feel good' movie if that is what you are looking for, but it is an interesting perspective on what many people have gone through from a war-torn era.
It's almost like 2 films in one, or at least two storylines in one film, therefore it makes it quite a long one, but it is necessary and leads to an entertaining film.
That said, there are moments when the film wanders. There are occasions - albeit few - when I wondered about the film's heavy concentration on the flashbacks, which were not leveraged to the degree they could have been.
Overall, though, it's not the depressing, maudlin tear-jerker I expected and avoided for so long, and the film is better for it.
Streep is fantastic and whilst I can't assume her accent to be perfect , it came across authentic. Kevin Kline was the was the biggest sruprise for me, (having only seen him in Comedy Roles before) who gave a truly good performance.
An intriguing tale with many tangents.
This is a very heavy drama which touches upon a lot of weighty dramatics and worthy themes, and does so typically with a powerful realism, thus, when the film does slip into melodramatics, it's really hard to get past the momentary lapses in genuineness, no matter how mild. Inconsistencies go well beyond the level of genuineness in the drama, because much more than it gets carried away with certain dramatics, the film gets carried away with layering its narrative, which alternates between a young stranger befriending strange folks in a strange land from which he hopes to emerge as a successful novelist, and a biting study on the trauma of a Holocaust survivor who can't seem to ever escape some form of anguish, both of which are so distinguished in tone and theme that their juxtaposition shakes a sense of evenness. If nothing else, the layers leave the heavier subject matter to call your attention towards the banality of the relatively light subject matter, which in turn defused much dramatic momentum, thus resulting in natural shortcomings that probably shouldn't even be in the concept, limiting value with a certain blandness which is not helped by slow spells. Really, with all of my joking about fearing that this film would be dull, I was rarely bored, and when I was, then just barely, yet the fact of the matter is that there are dull spells hit every now and then when Alan Pakula's thoughtfulness loses material to draw upon, in the midst of all of the dragging. Yes, if nothing else is problematic here, it's the film's simply being too blasted long, for although I certainly appreciate a drama which has the guts to get extensive with its storytelling, there's something almost monotonous about the film's meandering along its uneven and sometimes limp path, whose other shortcomings might have been forgotten if the final product didn't take its time to be intimate with all of its blemishes. There are occasions in this film that I really dig, but considering that the film is so long, those occasions are relatively rare, and no matter how much the film compels consistently, it could have been more in certain places, and could have settled down in others. Of course, perhaps it is simply momentum's being subdued by questionable structuring that holds the final product back a bit, as the mistakes are limited, at least in comparison with the strengths.
A touch unevenly used, Marvin Hamlisch's score, upon coming into play, is anything from sweeping to piercingly subtle, as surely as Nestor Almendros' cinematography, despite often being rather subdued, has some subtle dynamicity which is near-captivating enough without highlights in a distinguished palette that sometimes haunts when it falls upon memorable visuals. Aesthetic value is subtle, but it is very much there when you find it, being so tasteful that it actually reflects an artistic ambition which is nothing short of worthy, because even though one can go on and on debating the unevenness in the weight of the story layers, most every branch in this narrative intrigues, whether it be focusing on the charming tale of an aspiring writer making new friends with disturbing secrets, or focusing on the aspiring tale of a woman facing terrible struggles during and followed one of the great travesties of the modern world, there's plenty of potential, as Alan J. Pakula realize. This means that the storytelling is characterized by a sense of ambition that leads to some questionably overblown aspects, until met with true inspiration within Pakula's efforts, both as a writer of razor-sharp dialogue and thoroughly extensive characterization, and as a director whose thoughtfulness is rarely all that dulling when its bite lapses, with heights in realization which, during the lighter moments, entertain, and, during the heavier moments, devastates. This drama is emotionally challenging, and I mean that in a very good way, for although the film doesn't hold up enough to momentum to stand out on the whole, its highlights are penetrating in their doing great justice to great and valuable subject matter, which thrives on a human heart that in turn thrives on hearty performances. This is a big cast, but only so many members receive a fare share of attention, and when they do, they carry the soul of this character drama, with Peter MacNicol being sharp enough in his charm and convincing enough in his portrayal of a caring man of sophistication and ambition helps in making the Sting character's relatively light story so endearing, even again subject matter so hefty, while Kevin Kline steals the show at time in his even more convincing portrayal of a thoroughly charismatic and often flamboyant man whose emotional instabilities make shifts into intense and violent fury disturbingly unpredictable. Of course, at the end of the day, the true show-stealer here is the lovely Meryl Streep, whose excellence, plain and simple, cannot be overstated, as she is astonishingly impeccable, not simply with an accent as challenging as that of a pole, but with her vulnerable and emotionally intense portrayal of a woman seeking excitement, joy and love in a free world that go challenged by yet more sorrow and isolation which remind her of struggles no human should have suffer through, resulting in a performance so nuanced, so transformative, and so piercing that it simply would have to be seen in order to be believed, were it not beyond believe, let alone words. Streep is amazing, and although I won't go so far as to say that I wish the film itself was nearly of that quality, Streep is one of many highlights that could have made an excellent film, or at least a strong one, and yet, the final product is never less than engrossing as a thoroughly rewarding drama.
In conclusion, there is a hint of bloating to the dramatics, and a great deal of bloating a structure which has a tendency to fall into inconsistencies in a sense of consequence that dilutes dramatic magnitude about as much as dry spells and meanderings, thus, the final product falls way shy of a potential that is still juicy enough for beautiful scoring and cinematography, inspired and often emotionally impacting writing and direction, and powerful performances - the most powerful of which being by the amazing Meryl Streep - to prove to be enough to secure Alan J. Pakula's "Sophie's Choice" as a rewarding and often enthralling portrait on human instabilities and great secrets.
3/5 - Good
What really makes Sophie's Choice work are the characters involved, which are impeccably cast. This is anchored primarily by Meryl Streep, with a characteristic powerhouse performance, but also matched well by Kevin Kline as the manic, intelligent, but hopelessly charming Nathan Landau. The actors inhibit their characters with such nuance, with such dedication, that it really makes the film impacting, even with the bloated run time.
The script was also another standout with the film, which takes its time to build the characters and realize the setting. The flashbacks are exceedingly well written and incorporated, with the film feeling coherent and organically composed. The dialogue and narration are also well done.
The only real drawback to the film is the running time, which feels a bit bloated. The film does seem to lose momentum towards the end, which is partly a symptom of this. It's also a little too over dramatic in many respects, but the actors and strong writing always keep the film engaging, and definitely moving. A powerful drama.