Welcome to NL's film reviews page. NL has written 2 reviews and rated 181 films.
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This was based on a short story, and it shows. It is two and a half hours long, and in that time it manages to cram in about as much incident as a typical ten-minute short. Films need plot, character, and incident.
Plot: in the first hour, pretty much nothing happens. After that, the pace picks up very very slightly. The film is so slow and so dull that it took me four determined sessions to get through it, and two of then had breaks in. There is a duty of a film-maker to entertain, and this film fails badly in that duty.
Character: the main character is a contender for the dullest person possible. Just once in the entire film, he says something faintly interesting. Most of the time, he hardly speaks more than a grunt. He doesn't smile or emote. The main love interest is a bit weird, but she is not weird enough to be interesting. None of the characters is likeable. It is very difficult to care about a main character who so very dull.
Incident: there is precious little of this. There is no entertaining dialogue. No one does anything clever. There is no humour. Everything that does happen, happens very slowly. There is a totally unbelievable bit with a cat.
Critics loved this, and gave it several awards. How could it have been improved? Well, one Hollywood way would be to cast someone likeable in the main role, and give him sparkling dialogue, and add a car-chase. That would have turned it into a very different thing, however. The main characters are loners and that is partly why the story works, and obviously likeable people are not convincing loners. The main character comes to a slow realisation of something (I'm trying to avoid spoilers) and his slowness is part of the story. The problem seems to be in making this a feature film at all. It is two and a half hours in which each minute carries almost nothing in it, which makes it an ordeal to watch. As a short story, it wouldn't be annoying that the characters are dull, and very little is said. In a short story, the writer can describe the passage of time, and the reader can imagine it.
It should have stayed as a short story.
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I tried to watch Call Me By Your Name last night. It came highly recommended. It was nominated for four Oscars including 'best picture'.
I watched through the first 49 minutes, during which nothing happened, and no one said anything interesting or of any consequence. There was nothing at stake, and no reason to expect that anything good or bad might happen to any of the characters, so no suspense at all.
I then watched the rest of the film on fast-forward, checking to see if anything happened at any point. So far as I could tell, nothing did.
Why do critics like stuff like this? It was set in the 1980s (retro?), in Italy (Euro-chic?), with educated people (culture?), some of whom were Jews (ethnicity?), and it had some homosexuality in it (rainbow virtue signalling?), but no scene I saw had any consequence at all. Some examples:
An old man catches a fish. He shows it to a boy, who does a fish impression, then gives it to a cook. Later, the same old man says that he has fixed a bicycle.
Three people get in a car. They go to the sea to see a bronze statue that has been pulled up from the depths. They look at it admiringly.
The fish, the statue, the bike, are never mentioned again. They are of no consequence. They are not part of any pivotal change for any of the characters.
I don't demand chases and explosions, but SOMETHING has to be at stake, SOMETHING has to make me wonder what will happen next. I loved 'Brooklyn' - and that didn't have so much as a raised voice in it, but the events that happened to the characters in that were shown to us because they had effects on the characters, and the main character has a big decision to make, and we don't know which way she is going to go.
I want that bit of my life back. I want all the bits of my life back that I have wasted on pretentious meaningless films that critics and no one else likes.