Bad Boys for Life
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I think Ford v Ferrari suffers from mismarketing. I don't mean that it was poorly marketed, and that the trailers made it look bad or anything. Just that it was marketed inaccurately. When I was keeping myself abreast of this project, it seemed very much that the insinuation was that the movie would be a battle between Bale's and Damon's respective characters. That this would essentially be the run-through of the whole film, and the climax would feature one emerging victorious over the other. In actual fact, the opposite is true. Ford v Ferrari is largely about the friendship and partnership of those two characters. An occasionally rugged, and one occasion even violent friendship, but a friendship nonetheless. Even the title is misleading. I suppose Ford does v Ferrari at a couple of points over the movie's runtime, but it's not what Ford v Ferrari is about. In fact, Ferrari barely features in the movie at all. Here's the kicker though: I actually liked what this thing ended up being, more than I think I would have enjoyed a movie that really did revolve around Bale actually versing Damon, or one about Ford actually versing Ferrari.
Hard to understand how this went so wrong. Almost every single development feels like out of all the options available to the momentum of the story, whichever is the worst possible choice is the one that Mary goes with. Over and over and over. I mean you've got Acadamy Award Winning Gary Oldman literally on deck here, in what on paper is actually a very cool premise. I even have a predisposed fondness for boat movies. How was this not even "just okay"?
I went in expecting mumblecore, but got more of a Wes Anderson (which, to be fair, a primary influence of mumblecore). Wes Anderson almost always has violence in his movies, but probably nothing so brutal as The Art of Self-Defense. I thought that the whole movie would essentially be setting up Eisenberg as an awkward, meek nerd, who at the very end would go uber-violent, and the joke that they bothered to make a movie for would essentially be "You didn't think this guy would punch very good but then he does". Happy to say, I was wrong. Not only does Eisenberg punch pretty good on actually more than one occasion, there's also a story in The Art of Self-Defense as well, which I was not expecting. Now I still didn't think it was very good, and I definitely didn't think it was very funny, but my very low expectations were exceeded, so in the end I'm actually moderately happy with this one.
Guess 2019's just the year for Florence Pugh to be in critically acclaimed and letterboxd beloved movies that I just genuinely didn't care for much.
I don't have a kid. I've never been divorced. Or even married. Though I guess I was once a kid myself, I'm not the product of a divorced couple. I'm not even the product of a married one. Everyone I know who has gotten married or had kids did it before I met them, or stopped hanging out with me almost immediately afterward. Everyone I've ever met who got divorced either did it before I met them, or is someone I stopped hanging out with beforehand. So I don't come to the subject of Marraige Story with a wealth of experience, which means it doesn't exactly scream "relatable content" to me.
Let me start where it's easiest and everyone seems to agree: The performances. Everyone in Marriage Story is pretty great, none of the characterisations changed my life, but I get it. As a chance to display what these actors are capable of in a mundane setting where all that matters is their performance, yes, absolutely, Marriage Story has buckets of success.
Outside of this though... I'm not even going to say that it "fails" elsewhere, just that it didn't win me. I like bleak movies, I like movies that make me feel something, even if it's sad. But Marriage Story isn't really that. It poses you the question of whether both Charlie and Nicole are good or bad people, and shows you each from their own and other's perspective. The ending seems to imply that they're good, or at the very least both good and bad (and aren't we all?) but that really doesn't matter very much when we just spent all this time watching both of them be horrible. I know that's life, that's real, that's people, and blah bl-blah bl-blah, but that's little consolation when I've just spent two-plus hours of my life being not at all compelled by a bunch of people being awful. Being awful convincingly, to the actors' respective credits, but in this setting that is not my idea of a good time at the movies.