Critic Consensus: Featuring outstanding performances from John Malkovich and newcomer Jessica Haines, Disgrace is a disturbing, powerful drama.
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Critic Reviews for Disgrace
It's an enormously complicated story with great potential for reductive schmaltz, but this is avoided thanks to Anna Maria Monticelli's sharp, sensitive screenplay and superb performances.
The movie eventually begins to wilt under the sober, plodding direction of Steve Jacobs, but the thoughtful screenplay gives Malkovich a complex, increasingly reflective character arc that he plays with great feeling.
Unfortunately, though Malkovich remains a compelling and cerebral screen presence, he comes off as too innately detached and prickly to elicit much empathy (not that his character is asking for it, mind you).
Audience Reviews for Disgrace
What is so fantastic about this powerful, thought-provoking drama is not only the remarkably intelligent way that it raises many questions about good, evil, morality and amorality, but also that it can be incredibly tense, gripping and unpredictable.
In Cape Town, a professor who was fired for screwing a student retreats to his daughter's ranch where they encounter provincial politics and a gang of rapist thieves. This is an extraordinary film. The plot, drenched with post-colonial themes that expose the racism inherent in apartheid, unfolds deftly, and the characters are all compelling, drawn finely and with an uncomfortable realism. The performances are all great, especially by John Malkovich. The scenes between David and Petrus are always rich with subtext. The film's message - even though it's too complex to be reduced to a simple moral - draws a comparison between the Lucy's rape and what white colonialists have done to the country. Additionally, the white characters are in and of themselves victims to their own greedy system. Malkovich, as I've said, is amazing in this film, and I think he can do anything, but he can't do an accent - the one flaw of his work in this film. Overall, Disgrace is simply great, especially for those of you interested in post-colonial theory.
When an middle-aged University professor is asked to leave after an affair with a student he turns to his adult daughter, a South-African farmer. Of course he doesn't find peace on the countryside. His encounter with violence and racism out in the fields shakes his beliefs, but does it change him? Malkovich is perfect, of course, in the role. But the film feels without a clear direction at times, doesn't quite seem to know where it is getting at. In the end, there is no solution, just hints of one. The setting does add a very special atmosphere to the film, though and makes it worth seeing after all.
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