The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (10)
| Top Critics (5)
| Fresh (1)
| Rotten (9)
The result plays like a half-baked tribute to Wings of Desire.
Strained dialogue, awkward mise-en-scene and weirdly uncomfortable thesping from superlative players contribute to a drearily self-reflective conceit.
Paul Auster's suffocating romance makes you feel as if you're helplessly stuck inside the head of the most pretentious person you know.
So far, so good, right? Not really.
What starts out as a clever exploration of consciousness quickly descends into underplotted folly.
the conclusion comes across as tacked-on, padded to get the thing to feature length. That's an unfortunate way to wrap up an otherwise sweet little movie.
The film's magical qualities magically eluded me.
Thanks to the lumbering pace of Auster's script and the lugubrious way he directs this ostensible romantic fantasy, Martin and his muse fail, miserably, to amuse.
A fanciful and enganging metaphysical mystery about a writer, two beauties, love and the challenges of the creative process.
The inner life of Martin Frost reeks of misogyny and the film that enshrines his egomania makes half-assed aspirations to Goethe.
Martin Frost retreats to his friends' up-state cottage, and as a story comes upon him, he falls for a beautiful, mysterious woman. But when he finishes writing his story, she dies, and she miraculously comes back to life when he burns the only copy of the story. Together they must work out how to trick the hidden "muse gods" so that they can live together.
This is the plot of The Inner Life of Martin Frost, and like most of Auster's plots, it sounds simple to the point of banal, magical to the point that it defies suspension of disbelief. But these criticisms underestimate the feeling of an Auster story. His work rises organically out of the characters, seemingly created by the characters instead of their author. And this is the point of the film. Do we create our lives, or are the events that shape us brought upon us? This theme is similar to his novel The Travels in the Scriptorium, which includes cameos by characters in his other books.
Likewise, the film explores the relationship between an artist and his art. In Smoke Thomas responds to the story of Bakhtin smoking his book by saying, "No writer would do that." Apparently Martin Frost would. The question is would an artist sacrifice his art for his life? Auster says yes, but his eventual obsession with Claire and when he tries to turn her into art, we wonder if that "yes" is definitive.
Not many people on Flixster, including critics, liked this film, but fans of Paul Auster's fiction and existential, allegorical stories will be like pigs in shit.
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