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This film was what Doctor Zhivago (1965) wanted to be as it captured the lives of wealthy, privileged people caught up in revolutionary ideas who find that the Russian Revolution ultimately destroys them. While I would not call the film a masterpiece, the performances often leave a lot to be desired, but one has to admire the sweeping ambition of the film and the flashes of brilliance amidst the flaws. Beatty was able to assemble great talent behind the camera and the impressive cinematography from the legendary Vittorio Storaro and the Dave Grusin/Stephen Sondheim score is emotional without being overly cloying. I can see why this film garnered so many Academy Award nominations in 1981 as it is directed by a movie star in Warren Beatty and so many respected figures are featured in it but unlike Heaven Can Wait (1978) most of the nominations are earned.
Communist journalist John "Jack" Reed, Warren Beatty, falls in love with uptight housewife Louise Bryant, Diane Keaton, who pursues her aspiration of becoming a feminist writer after leaving her husband for him. Bryant struggles to establish herself in Reed's circles and becomes frustrated by his constant absences as he travels overseas to visit other communists and try to establish a stronger movement in the United States. She has a passionate affair with playwright Eugene O'Neill, Jack Nicholson, when Reed is gone for a long period of time but when he returns the two re-affirm their love for one another and are married. When Russia becomes a Communist nation the two travel to the country full of optimism and hope but Bryant is disillusioned by the horrors she witnesses. Reed becomes a fervent supporter of the regime and becomes trapped in Russia, being imprisoned before being let go in order to unsuccessfully lobby for American interest in communism. Bryant journeys to Russia and reunites with Reed but he tragically dies a short time afterwards.
What the film captures nicely is how people who care so much about political movements can lose themselves in beliefs and ideals instead of acknowledging the truth of situations or living their lives. While Bryant is able to go on living her life even as she is invested in politics Reed becomes obsessed and cannot tear himself away from debates even as he knows that he is losing and will never win. The push pull between the two characters is fascinating as Bryant initially aspires to be as radical as her romantic partner but later realizes that it is better to be practical and honest than to give yourself completely to causes that are nearly impossible to advocate for. Through this all they maintain a close bond and while we don't necessarily get to the heart of why they love another we learn more about them than we do in some of these romantic epics. This makes it easier for us to care as we spend over three hours with them.
Unfortunately I would argue that the film is just too long, were the film a miniseries it would be acceptable to include all of the subplots that feel slightly detached and flesh them out but as a feature it is overstuffed. The inclusion of the O'Neill romance and the amount of time we spend on certain sections of the film hearing the same points repeated over and over. The O'Neill subplot was enjoyable if only because of Nicholson's devilish charm, it is delightful to watch him leer at Keaton, but had they cut this romance out the film would be less weighty and the political discussions could have taken up a larger section of the film. The shots of Russia and the Hudson Valley were beautiful but in a similar fashion to Ryan's Daughter (1970) you become tired of how stunning these locations are when you see them too often. This is not to say that Storaro doesn't do a fantastic job but perhaps Beatty and his editors could have cut out some of these unnecessary sections of the film.
Another disappointing element of the film is the performances of the two leads, Keaton and Beatty, who do not imbue their characters with the quiet strength and desperation necessary to convince us of their convictions. Keaton is less irksome here than she is in Something's Gotta Give (2003) and Marvin's Room (1996) but her cutesy quirks keep you from seeing past her star persona and fully believing her character. During some of her rousing speeches, she receives many, she is vaguely reminiscent of Meryl Streep but she is hilariously bad in some scenes, her reaction to Beatty's death is so over the top, which ruins parts of the film for me. As for Beatty he is more successful than Keaton but seems disengaged at times and often sounds like he is reciting lines rather than delivering them with passion and genuine emotion. The supporting players steal the movie from the leads and if better actors, say Judy Davis and Jon Voight, had inhabited these roles maybe the film would have risen to masterpiece status.
Cuesta engancharse al comienzo, pero da una visión rápida y precisa del momento histórico. Fabulosos los dos speechs de Diane Keaton (declarando ante el tribunal y describiendo los enfrentamientos entre facciones a su marido). El amor frente la historia. Grandiosa
That Warren Beatty could sell a communist protagonist to the American public in 1981 speaks volumes as to the quality of this movie and the masterful skill of its director/writer/star.
The movie follows the true story of Jack Reed and Louise Bryant, a pair of American journalists whose experiences covering the Russian Revolution inspire them to join the socialist movement in their homeland.
Beatty is exceptional in his portrayal of Reed, bringing an undeniable charisma to the role. His real-life relationship with Diane Keaton lends tremendous chemistry to their on-screen relationship, and Keaton is wonderful in her own right, despite playing a character I personally found less than likable.
Jack Nicholson brings his usual intensity to the role of playwright Eugene Oâ(TM)Neill, a love interest of Bryantâ(TM)s. I know nothing of Oâ(TM)Neillâ(TM)s real life personality, but the Nicholson character feels like he could snap at any moment.
The film frequently transitions from dramatic reenactment to documentary-style interviews, which I personally found awkward. Though many of the interviews provide quality information, they break up the natural flow of the film and drag it out to an insane 3 hours and 15 minutes.
This type of period piece is what Hollywood needs more of. I, like most people these days, lean more towards fantasy, science fiction, and epic mythological productions in the wheelhouse of Marvel, DC, Harry Potter, etc. However, quality directors and writers like Beatty, James Cameron, Ron Howard, etc. have a unique power and opportunity to educate the modern film-goer on these crucial time periods in the guise of entertainment.
Overall the movie will undoubtedly live on as a classic in the epic genre, but should have left a lot more on the cutting room floor.
The best, GREATEST inspiring epic romance movie ever made!
Keys words that describe "Reds": epic, drama, history, love story, love triangle, communism, intellectuals, long. You get the gist right? I have to say that all these themes are used with the right dosage, so the 3 hours and 20 minutes will not result challenging. One world I wouldn't use, though, is memorable, because despite being a pleasant movie, I am afraid it will not stuck with me for too long. It was mildly instructive, that I can say.
Reds is a Warren Beatty film that follows the life of John Reed and Louise Bryant, two socialists at the beginning of the 20th century. This three and a half hour film shows the two through thick and thin, from New York to Russia and back again. We really get to know the characters and we can really feel an impact when something goes wrong in their lives. Though I don't understand why it won for best cinematography, it's still a great movie I can watch any day of the week!
1001 movies to see before you die.
This is how to do a long movie right. Combining both really interesting/relatable characters with dynamic strengths and flaws and in a very interesting situation in history where you know what's going to happen in history but not know what's going to happen to the characters.
This is art.
Speaks so much to the times we live in where the working man and woman is working at near slave wages these days to make a proper living. To those whom think Socialism And Comunism are the boogie man, then think again. We need more people like Jack Reed And Louise Bryant today more than ever. With the Unions on the decline it is important to organize today more than ever against the greed and TWO FACED PEOPLE we face today who's only goal is to bring real people like you and me down. GO SOCIALISM!!!!!!!!!