So the short form: Critics who praised it didn’t praise it enough – literally it is better than I expected even with the praise.
So basically, you’ve heard the story: Michael Keaton plays a former superhero actor trying to revive his career by doing an adaption of a Raymond Chandler story, and it’s a bit of a dark comedy/character piece. That honestly doesn’t do it justice as it’s far more complicated, deep, heartfelt, and clever.
The film is extremely well-crafted, and doesn’t use the standard three act structure – it uses a single camera view (the directing and editing is exceptional) to tell the story with occasional “sped time” or “scenery-as-wipe” transitions, which makes it even more powerful. The film in an amusing way limits itself from using many Hollywood tropes. Which is sort of the point.
Mildest of spoilers, the film’s themes include but aren’t limited to:
- Madness and embracing madness.
- A critique of Hollywood.
- A critique of theater.
- A celebration of theater.
- A critique of AUDIENCES.
- A critique of critics (in an exceptional scene).
- A celebrating of the power of actors.
- Pretty much noting actors aren’t gods.
- The need for love.
- The need for identity.
- Some Buddhism on top of this.
Plus there’s a variety of self-referential and foreshadowing elements elements that put me in mind of both “Fuse: Memories of a Huntress” only the references are thematic not causal. it also reminded me of the storytelling work in “Laura.”
The performances are great and the film remains grounded in its humanity, in all its flawed and human characters.
It’s the kind of film that made me believe in films again. Often I leave my intellectual stimulation to text and use visual entertainment for less intellectual pursuits except for documentaries. This is making me rethink my habits.
Only warning? See it with someone. You need someone to discuss the film when it’s done.
I will see this again. I will probably buy it. It probably will become a regularly-viewed cult film.
- Steven Savage
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/.