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If this film was made by anyone other than Woody Allen, I would have immediately dismissed it, assuming it would be an arrogant essay on art and Europe. But Woody Allen is really funny. A million writers have written about being writers and it generally ends up trite and egotistical. Allen takes pompous subjects and says, "Look, this isn't really that important, but let's talk about it because it will be fun." The literary and artistic cameos and trivia were a lot of fun as well.
I think MMA is only slightly less ridiculous than the people who like to watch it. So how could I possibly enjoy a movie about it, filled to the brim with sports movie cliches? I don't know, but I did. The acting was great (I love both Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton) and the plotting and character arcs were both spectacularly executed, even if occasionally trite in content. Even though it was clear that the final act would put them in the ring together, I have to say that I was not quite sure how it would all shake out. That's saying something too since I can't remember the last time a movie kept me wondering.
This is an extremely difficult movie to watch. It's raw and honest brought to life mostly by the absolutely superb acting. Writing-wise, it's a very good study of relationships and how, when it comes down to it, we are MORE concerned with our own mental well being than that of anyone else. Everyone grieves differently and finds comfort in different places and we need to explore our personal ways to cope before we can cope together.
It was really interesting because of how it put to use the ideas of how revolutions begin and how leaders emerge. A little bit of the story was heavy handed but it was in service of the character so I can forgive it. The mocap work and CGI was amazing and I found myself completely immersed in the story the majority of the time.
It's certainly moody and bleak enough, shot well by Fincher, The music is good and moody as well, but the narrative is so loose and compartmentalized that it's hard to watch at times. It's more like three separate stories instead of one story with three parts. There's no thematic entanglement between the two protagonists and the mystery is actually not all that engaging. I was really hoping that this version would improve on the Swedish version, but it's pretty much exactly the same.