The Moon Song is perfection. Joaquin Phoenix can do anything. He's a mesmerizing presence on screen. The sets, the camera, the rhythm, the music. The actors (Amy Adams). The film's quirky, cozy sense of style. It's a film to feel at home with. And yes, the last twenty minutes are whatever you make out of them. You write them just as you write your own experiences. One of the best films of the year.
Dramatically the film is lacking. It depends too much on its twist (which in the end isn't as surprising as the filmmakers would like it to be, because the characters are so tiny dramatically that every intention is more than obvious). It's an important film though, a film people should see and it worked as a thriller in the beginning, but then it felt like if the filmmaker didn't know where to go with this story. Too bad for the terrific actors in it. And yes, the subject matters deserves a better film! A more complex film!
Mikkelsen and Thomas Bo Larsen (who needs to get more attention for this particular performance) deliver brutally honest, painful, realistic and intense performances in a film that is an interesting metaphor about society's urge to blame and execute witch hunts. I loved the film's sense of urgency, the rhythmic logic of its characters and its narrative. It's a bleak and depressing film, but it doesn't lose its sense of authenticity and humanity. Definitely one of the best films I've seen this past year.
It has its virtues (and DiCaprio offers a surprisingly complex performance that really grew on me once the rather dragging first hour was over), but the film has the tendency to actually explain its characters (using subjective voice overs) and I hated that. I didn't need them. Viewers aren't stupid and they can read into characters' motivations without being told exactly what they're thinking and aiming at at every turn. The film is above average, but not one of Scorsese's best.
A big mess! Funny and messy. Sometimes it makes no sense at all, but the energy is there (even though it feels like a lesser Scorsese or a lesser PT Anderson). Amy Adams creates a beautiful character and she was to me the only cast member I cared about. Bale's character got lost in the final act, but there was the promise there. Overall solid acting and it's really watchable, but it's all the flashy glitz and well... no substance there..
Where to start?! Yes, I blame Tracy Letts. And no, I don't consider A:OC a great American play. It had meaty parts for many actors, but it's soapy. It's soapy and unsurprising and while it could have worked on stage, it certainly didn't work on screen. In the first hour it had some wonderful moments (mostly due to its actors and while it was one of Meryl's lesser performances, in some scenes she let go of the mannerism and actually delivered). But the film drags most of the time and in the last half an hour everything breaks down. There are crucial moments that are supposed to be meaningful and they just pass by. A character's revelation just happens and I didn't feel anything, I wasn't surprised, I wasn't expecting it, but no, they didn't make me believe. And there were some fine actors involved: Meryl Streep of course. As I said, I have mixed feelings about the performance and I need to re-watch it to comment on her performance, but Julia Roberts both had her moments (like the moment with her daughter in the car), but at the same time her performance felt dull and she was the constant presence in the film, but not interesting enough to make me care. And the character IS interesting (on the page). Chris Cooper and Margo Martindale deliver the comic relief and Cooper has this wonderful scene opposite Margo in the end of the film. He's both funny and heartbreaking, but Margo didn't succeed in making the transition toward the character's darker side. She simply felt lost and trapped in that character's first act antics and the transition didn't happen. Here we come to the standout -- Julianne Nicholson as Ivy. It's a beautifully nuanced performance, painful, honest and without all the mannerisms of everybody else (except for Cooper and a really watchable and likable Benedict Cumberbatch in a role that I wanted more of).