Saturday, March 08, 2008

Overblownment: Movie Review

Overblownment, a movie starring Keira Slightly, a bunch of other folks, and with a special appearance at the end by Vanessa Redgrave playing ancient, losing-her-brain Briony.

This is a painfully bad chick flick with sophomoric artistic pretensions. Mysteriously, it won oodles of awards and respectful reviews - I suspect by reviewers who were afraid to admit that this emperor has no clothes or, even worse, couldn't tell. The flick is fraught, I tell you, fraught. With what? With great ghastly gobs of fraughtness. It's silly and empty and shallow and hollow and uses time jumps and camera trickery and serious stares by the actors to try to bully us into thinking that it's deep and meaningful and significant.

The story starts in 1935, in a country house filled with characters who act and speak and have names like Hollywood parodies of English country-house characters. Thirteen-year-old aspiring writer Briony Tallis, for reasons that make absolutely no sense, falsely accuses stout young Robbie Turner, son of the groundskeeper, of rape, thus breaking the heart of Briony's breastless older sister, Cecilia, who loves Robbie and is loved by him in turn. Sob! Oh, and also allowing the real rapist -- whose identity is obvious to everyone in the audience but not to any of the pretty dimwits on the screen -- to escape with a sleazy smirky smile. Hint: He's the only young male character present who has a moustache. He's also the most convincing actor.

Robbie is taken away to jail, and is saved a few years later by the fortunate invasion of Poland by Germany, when he's given the choice of staying in jail or joining the Army. Since the war will be over in no time and the boys will be home by Christmas, the Army is obviously the better choice.

Oops! Robbie ends up with a few hundred thousand other desperate men on the beach at Dunkirk, is evacuated home to England, gets back together with Cecilia, and, except for occasional bouts of murderous rage because of PTSD, spends the rest of his life happily with her, gamboling in the surf in sight of the frightfully famous white cliffs of Dover. And yes, there is a moment where voices sing "There'll be blue birds over etc." How fucking manipulative can you get?

But, wait! He didn't make it home! He died of septicemia during the night before he would have been evacuated! And Cecilia died when a German bomb hit a water main and the underground station in which she was sheltering from the blitz was flooded! All of the other stuff was just an invention in a novel titled Atonement, written by the ancient, losing-her-brain Briony! Which we learn when we jump suddenly to the present and see Briony being interviewed for a TV show and explaining everything to us! Oh, God, that's soooooo artistic! You can weep and feel waves of vicarious romance and think you're experiencing an elevated moment of awful artistic artistry, all at the same time!

Here's what would have improved this movie: If only the script had been written by a reincarnation of P. G. Wodehouse! Then it would have been a delightful tale of comic confusion, with witty dialog and amusing coincidences and cleverly silly characters. And the guy and the girl would have gotten each other at the end for real.

Alternatively, during the war scenes, they could have shown us stuff getting blowed up real good. Including the script.

This movie sucks. It sucks with a suckitude so mighty that it puts black holes to shame. Rating: Minus 52 stars.


Lahdeedah said...


And I just rented "Beowulf" a movie I had no real expectations of except that it was a nifty CGI effect movie and there'd be lots of action and stuff.


Chris said...

But what, David, did you really think of it?

Incidentally, the blurb they would take from your review is "...deep and meaningful and significant."

David said...

Maybe I should have seen Beowulf in the theater, after all. It looked nifty, visually, although in the trailer I saw, it looked like he was diving off a metal bridge that had rivets. Is that correct? We're planning to see 10,000 BC because it looks so kewl and to help get the taste of Intonement out of our mouths. We know in advance that we'll have to turn our minds off as soon as the movie begins.

Chris: Or they could use "[A] delightful tale of comic confusion..."

Lahdeedah said...

Something like that, but he was Beowulf, as he lets you know in the movie, so it looked cool.

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