Sunday, January 20, 2008

I watched this film on DVD this weekend and actually saw it twice, because there are some beautiful performances very much worth looking at again...! In particular, Vanessa Redgrave, who plays a woman named Ann, who is dying and in fact is in what is called the end stage of her life....Almost all if her scenes are in her bed, as she kind of hallucinates and dreams of an earlier time in her life.....

One of the reasons I watched it twice was because I found Ms. Redgrave's performance so amazingly layered and thorough and deep....
I think she is one of the great great actresses of our time....And this performance is exquisite. And if you have never seen "Isadora"...well, it is a breathtaking performance of epoch proportions....And currently you can see her in "Atonement"....Her performance in that lovely film, comes at the very end of the movie and it is an Award Winning three minutes, let me tell you....This is an actress who does not display any vanity in her work...the naked age that she plays is not all dolled up, especially in "Evening"....Then there is Meryl Streep, who plays Ann's old old friend Lila. She comes in quite late in the film and has really just three scenes...but, they are powerful and moving and again, the attention to detail is inspiring to watch....To see these two Great Actresses together....well, I find this kind of acting, utterly thrilling.....! Why? Because it is so 'real'.
There are other performances too, that are really wonderful and special.....Mamie Gummer, who I have not seen before in a part this important, plays the young Lila, is just terrific....! So when her older self arrives much later in the movie, it is perfect, since her older self is played by her mother, Meryl Streep. (Mamie Gummer was cast first and her mother, much later.)...Another kind of marvelous connection here is Natasha Richardson, a brilliant and talented actress, plays one of the two daughters of the dying woman....Another brilliant stroke of casting since Vanessa Redgrave is her 'real' mother. Their scenes are very very touching.....Then, there is the magnificent actress, Toni Colette, who plays the other daughter.....again, a perfect bit of casting. One really believes these two woman are sisters, though in the story, they have two different fathers. Again, we are watching two very powerful actresses, both of whom bring a wonderful reality to their scenes together.....The wonderfully gifted Clare Danes plays "Ann", the dying woman when she is young, and again, here is another very talented actress, but I must admit of all the performances of these amazing women, hers was the least impressive to me....And I am not sure why. Something just a little bit off in some strange way....but, this is not to say she doesn't pull it off, it just doesn't come up to the other performances for me, and I do think that she is incredibly talented...Remember the TV series, "My So Called Life"?

Probably the weakest performances for me were the two main men played by Patrick Wilson, ("Angels In America") and Hugh Dancy, a lovely English actor who in this picture plays an American. The part of 'Harris' as played by Patrick Wilson is the most under developed character....the fault of the writing, I think....and for me, Hugh Dancy's performance as 'Buddy' was a little self indulgent I'm afraid....a bit of 'chewing of the scenery'....It is a difficult part and I personally think there were problems in the writing and the direction with his character, too....still, it did not take away from the over-all feeling that I was left with at the end of the film....One other young actor, Ebon Moss Bachrach who plays 'Luc', Toni Colette's characters husband, is quite wonderful! He only has three scenes, but he makes them memorable in every way---particularly his last scene, by getting all the juice out of them in a very real way!The film jumps back and forth in time, between the present and then back to Ann's dreams and hallucinations of the past.....I found it a lovely film on so very many levels. It is not a film that got good reviews at all, but, I wanted to see it anyway because I couldn't believe that with all this talent, that this film could be that bad. And I was right. It wasn't. I'm sure the subject matter turned many people off...but, for me it was a wonderful experience.

There are two other actresses in this film that must be mentioned. Eileen Atkins, who plays Ann's Night Nurse, and who is one of the most brilliantly talented actresses around, and Glenn Close, who's part is quite small, but who has one scene that was surely worth her wanting to do this part! A tour de force for any actress, and not easy to pull off, let me tell you.It is interesting to me that almost all of these actresses have careers in the Theatre, too....Vanessa Redgrave, her daughter, Natasha Richardson, Eileen Atkins---a Fantastic career on the stage, Meryl Streep, and Glenn Close, both originally Theatre actresses....And I really believe the kind of discipline that the theatre demands is part of why these performances in this film are so very detailed....!

One more thing, the Director, Lajos Koltai, who is a very talented Cinematographer as well as a terrific director, did a masterful job. He is Hungarian, and it is interesting to me that Hungary seems to produce incredibly talented Cinematographers, (like Laslo Kovacs, just to name one other great Hungarian cinematographer...). It is beautifully filmed and his attention to detail is wonderful in every way.

This film is very much worth seeing for so very many reasons, not the least of which is that one great scene between Vanessa Redgrave and Meryl Streep. No, it's not a perfect film by any means, but did it deserve the kind of reviews it got? I don't think so. In fact, I could and would watch it again, anytime!

More To Come.....

Links to this post:


had this to say:

A geat review. I'll add it to my list of films to watch :) I hope you're having a wonderful weekend. Take care :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 5:19:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

The photos and description of this movie makes me want to go out and rent it. I need to get the gals together for a Moms Night Out in my living room for movies like this. :)

I appreciate your review of these films that don't get much publicity.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 6:18:00 AM PST 

Anonymous Ann
had this to say:

I can't believe you thought Dancy's Buddy Harris was one of the weakest performances. His was the only one that really gained any of my sympathy or caused any emotional response from me. The movie was pretty dull and lifeless once he was gone, and everyone else just seemed so cold and one-dimensional, which I think can be blamed more on poorly written characterizations. But I guess to each his own. I might be wrong, but it's possibly you didn't favor Claire's performance for the same reason I didn't, though. She plays all her characters the same way. I'm likely to think she might be playing them like herself rather than giving them a life of their own, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt there, at least. And so her character just didn't fit in with the rest, and I don't think that was exactly what they were going for.

Sorry for rambling. I get a little carried away when talking about this movie

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 7:14:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

That's some cast. I'll have to check out the film.

I do remember Claire Danes from My So Called Life. It was the first I'd seen her and she was wonderful. I was sorry when they canceled the show.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 7:49:00 AM PST 

Anonymous Lyn
had this to say:

I'll order this DVD because of my deep admiration for the most unforgetable women the stage and screen has ever known or will ever know. Seldom would one have the opportunity to see actors of this calibre together in one film and I don't want to miss it. Thanks for a great review Naomi.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 7:59:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I've been wanting to see this ever since it came out. Now I will be sure to.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 9:11:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

An excellent review. This film looks top rate. Meryl Streep is a real favourite of mine.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 9:29:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

BTW, Michele sent me here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 9:29:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I had been planning to see that film eventually but you definitely encouraged me to do it or maybe even buy it used. It sounded good and I do love Vanessa Redgrave and Meryl Streep in anything. Good review

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 10:18:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Hey Naomi. I was just stopping by to say hello and didn't expect such a great review! Thanks!

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 10:35:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

It sounds like a very good film, Naomi, but I need more car chases or perhaps some nudity. Great acting is a good substitute, of course--if you're in the right mood. ;-)

Maybe I'll just go watch Matt Damon in one of those Bourne movies again.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 11:05:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Looks like another movie to buy. TF and I don't like to rent movies, we just buy it if we hear it was good. This one sounds like one that I would like to own. Thanks for the review, Naomi. I can't wait to see it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 11:20:00 AM PST 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

When I saw the photo you have here for the movie, my first thought was, "MY God! WHAT a cast!"
It sounds wonderful, Naomi and I'm going to see if Netflix has it. I know I'd love it.
Thanks for sharing it here with us, but....thanks so MUCH for sharing all the back info. I had NO clue that Natasha Richarson (I really like her) was Redgrave's real daughter. NOR did I know that Meryl Streep's daughter was an actress....gosh, don't they look alike! I really enjoyed this post.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 12:31:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I will for sure watch this in the next few weeks! I love all the actresses that are in it. Ms. Redgraves is stunning and gorgeous - and will always be Queen Guenevere to me!

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 12:51:00 PM PST 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

I loved this film.

Michele sent me over to say hi.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 1:47:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Oh, from your description, I think I'd really enjoy this film. :)

Michele sent me today! Hope you're staying bundled today!

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 4:32:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

What a line-up!

And I've never heard of it!

I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 5:50:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Wow. I will add this of my list of things to watch. Lately, we have been watching a movie just about every night. I like movies like the one that you reviewed...movies that examine how people interact with and love each other. Michele sent me. :-)

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 6:09:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Naomi, thanks for the visit! To answer your question: I did the arrangements on Thursday afternoon and left them in the cooler all night. On Friday morning at 10am, I left home with them, drove to the venue, loaded them on to a cart and went up the elevator to the 21st floor. It took 1 1/2 hrs. to get there and back to the house, where my 2 designers were busily preparing the flowers for the reception. It is not usually a big deal to plan it all, but since I don't have a delivery person, I do it myself. I love your questions, so feel free to ask anything you want.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 8:08:00 PM PST 

Blogger PI
had this to say:

Wow ! tThanks for that Naomi, and for such a thorough review. I must try to see it as I know we feel the same way about so many things. I pity the men trying to hold their own with those women. You are right: Vanessa
is devoid of vanity and I love watching Eileen do anything. I had never heard of the film - to my shame - so thank you again.

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 2:31:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I wandered over here from old Hoss's blog. I am always looking for good flicks since I retired. This sounds like a good one with a performance of "epic proportions" as well.

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 4:24:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Back again, Naomi, in response to your additional questions. I will be glad to answer them (in a post), probably tonight. Thanks for asking!

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 4:40:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Sounds like a block buster of amazing actors with important themes being looked at. I'm on a life long course of studying death, trying to penetrate the mystery of it, so I like to watch movies that deal with it.

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 6:26:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I rented this a few months ago. I was expecting more. I liked it, but wasn't enthralled like I thought I would be. I would like to see what the deleted scenes were...maybe that would answer some of my questions.

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 10:55:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I so want to see this film now - look at that magnificent list of much excellent British talent..

Right, moving on down to have a look at Sweetie's mew video.....('mew video' - geddit?)


Monday, January 21, 2008 at 11:48:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I agree wholeheartedly with almost every point you made, especially Claire Danes being a bit off as the young Ann. I kept wondering why they didn't use Natasha Richardson in THAT role, or for that matter, Joely Richardson. Yes, it's a bit of a "stunt" to cast the daughter as the young version of the mother but I think it would have been highly effective. I agree that the two men's parts were underwritten. It seems like every actress who ages in a film these days turns into Vanessa Redgrave ("Evening," "Atonement," etc.) but they should count their blessings since she is such an exquisite actress.

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 2:18:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I answered your questions, Naomi!

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 2:32:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I find it uttermost interesting to read your blogs about movies and theatre. I can recall I have allways looked at Vanessa Redgrave as a brilliant actress. The others mentioned as well.

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 2:51:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

An intriguing review...I'll be very interested to see the movie itself. Never read a review by another actor before....I like it that you are so ENTHUSIASTIC and POSITIVE, qualities often sorely lacking in the "see what a smart person I am to badmouth these people" kinds of reviews we're stuck with in the newspapers.

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 6:06:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I like Claire Danes but I imagine her performance would be weak in the company of these other hugely talented women. I definitely want to see this one..and "Atonement" you mentioned, I think that one looks wonderful just from the trailer.

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 7:57:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I have always liked Vanessa Redgrave, she also gives it her all when she performs. And Meryl is a quality actress as well. This looks like a very touching story- thanks for the tip, I'll have to check it out this weekend.

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 8:17:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Could Meryls daughter look any more like her ! It is funny I always remember friends of my Dads going to see The Deerhunter and saying to my father we have seen EXACTLY what Wendy will look like grown up, um ok then lol.
Apparently I was supposed to grow up to look like Meryl Streep.
I think this sounds like my kind of movie, will have to look out for it.
BTW did you hear Meryl will be playing Julia Childs soon and Stanley T will be her husband.

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 9:07:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

It sounds like a movie I would love. I hadn't heard of it, but for some reason I'm not reading the paper or mags as much as I used to. So, I'm thrilled to read your reviews.

I love Vanessa Redgrave....always have. I think the first movie I saw her in was Julia with Jane Fonda. I saw it in my teens I think and it was an eye opener politically for me.

I will keep my eyes and ears more open and make sure I watch it. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 9:08:00 AM PST 

Blogger VV
had this to say:

Thanks for the review. I went to add it to my Netflix and discovered it was already on there at 108, so I moved it up in the queue. I can't wait to see it. I love all those actresses too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 1:11:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Great review Naomi! This sounds like a movie that I would like! I had never heard of it before.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 1:19:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Your review was so moving, it made me want to see this movie. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 8:27:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I've never even heard of this movie!! I definitely want to see it. It has so many great actresses in it, so I would be disappointed if their talents were not well used. It sounds as if they all do their part to make it a wonderful film.
Courtney and I went to see Atonement. I wasn't crazy about it, although I did like Vanessa Redgrave's part at the end.
We also saw Juno which I LOVED LOVED LOVED!!! That movie really delighted me!
I hope it wins a few Oscars.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 12:22:00 PM PST 

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