Bad Boys for Life
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Writer/director John Patrick Shanley presents hs own Pulitxer Prize and Tony award winning play in a relatively straightforward yet effective manner and instead relies on his words and his actors to deliver the film's impact and his performers don't let him down. This is first and foremost a tour-de-force of acting and watching heavyweights Streep and Seymour Hoffman at the top of their game is an absolute pleasure. Special mention also to Amy Adams for her portrayal of the naive young sister who sets the story in the motion and whose own suspicion swings from one side to the other as the events unfold.
As the title simply states this is film about doubt and the way it is presented we will all walk away with our own opinion and in all cases, without any concrete evidence of the alleged activity, we must also walk away with doubt in our minds.
The film looks good but the pacing is too deliberate in the early stages and it goes on way too long. Jude Law is effective as Dickie, the man born with a silver spoon who uses his friends as his moods suit. The rest of the cast are fairly unmemorable with the exeception of Philip Seymour Hoffman as one of Dickie's friends who begins to suspect Tom of dirty work.
The film's biggest problem is with Matt Damon as Tom Ripley. He simply doesn't convince as someone who could do what the story has him achieve. Jude Law would have been a better choice.
Finally, for a thriller there is simply not enough tension or suspense. There are opportunities for both but the pacing is so slow that the chances pass without barely a murmur.
Alfred Hitchcock (who filmed Patricia Highsmith's 'Stranger On A Train') demonstrated how this sort of scenario could work. Writer/director Anthony Minghella of The English Patient" fame shows how not to do it.
Rousing adventure yarn based on Rudyard Kipling's poem about a famous Indian water carrier who saved the British army from massacre.
Cary Grant (who hams it up heavily at times), Victor McLaglen and Douglas Fairbanks Jr are great together as three British sergeants in 19th century India while 47 year old Sam Jaffe (himself a Jewish Russian-American) appears as Din.
Top action sequences including the climactic mountain pass battle make this highly entertaining viewing.
This is a subtle, slow moving film which initially plays as a romantic drama between a young boy and an older woman but then changes tack and becomes a courtroom drama and then veers towards a possible reconciliation. But running throughout the film are many underlying thought provoking themes and questions; both moral and emotional; how would we react in similar situations? - can inaction be as bad as action?
The performances by Winslet as Hanna and David Kross as the impressionable Michael are exceptional and the music by Nico Muhly is quietly effective.
This predictable yet enjoyable French drama takes its inspiration from all those school-yard films where an idealistic and somewhat unsuitable teacher (inexperienced, coloured, middle-aged & balding, a young woman) tries something completely out of left field to try and get through to their initially uncontrollable yet ultimately good students.
You've seen it all before in one form or another but the formula still works.