Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I’ve read 1984 already, thanks. In all fairness, this film starts out wonderfully. Gilliam has a sense of the visually absurd that takes him a long way; unfortunately, he often forgets to get off in time. For the first hour or so, I am always taken in completely by this movie and by Jonathan Pryce’s character’s plight. Pryce is a surprisingly appealing and underused actor, and his gradual introduction to and disenchantment with the restrictions of his society are done very well. The best bits are his interactions with working life, such as the tiny office or his relationship with Ian Holm as his boss. It’s when the love story kicks in that I have to sign off. We aren’t given any reason to like the girl; or to have any feelings for her at all, in my case. Perhaps it’s the jarring American tones in the midst of all that British. But in my defense, I’m American. And all I feel for her is a distance and an annoyance that Pryce is so taken with her photograph he risks not only his own life but hers and the Resistance as well. As a catalyst for discontent or rebellion a love interest is fine, but when it becomes the focus of a much larger and, in my opinion, more interesting story, it’s just frustrating. The love story isn’t the only problem. That is a quarrel of a more personal nature, I admit. However, the film goes on far too long, and with nothing more to add after about an hour and a half. Freedom fighters drop from the ceiling. Then they do so again. We are treated to quite similar scenarios of chase, escape, and double-talk in slightly varying locations. Gilliam’s created a fascinating world, a visual complement to Orwell’s book which could easily rest just below it for those of us who enjoy that sort of thing. But by altering the spotlight from Pryce’s socio-political journey to his romantic one, the director’s cutting off his own legs. Not everything has to have a love interest to keep the ladies watching, and this one turns out to be far less interesting or thought-provoking than the first part of the film shows it had the potential to be.

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