The Great, the Great and the Ugly

In which we go two for three on DVDs.

Last Friday night was family movie night. We watched the new Blu ray 25th anniversary edition of The Princess Bride with our boys, 6yo Guppy and 9yo Drake. We’d watched this movie together before, but it had been a while. Oh, what a joy this movie is. So many great moments; so many good lines. We loved it. The boys loved it. We loved that the boys loved it. And the best part? The next day, when Guppy recited Mandy Patinkin’s famous line: My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!

We put the boys to bed, and returned to the television to continue re-watching Veronica Mars season 1. We were on episode 17 of 22. We finished the first one. “Let’s watch one more,” I asked. We finished the second one. “It’s Friday,” I said, “we can sleep in. Let’s keep watching.” After the third one, my husband turned to me and said, “You may go to bed if you like. But if you think I’m going to bed before I watch to the end, you’re crazy.” So we settled in and watched the last three episodes. Till 1:30am, when I usually go to bed at 10:30pm. It was utterly satisfying. There were so many scenes in those last 6 episodes of season 1 where G and I cheered and pumped our fists. Those six episodes were on top of having watched Princess Bride. So I estimate 6 hours of screen time, which according to yet another study, has lessened our life span by 2 hours. Totally worth it.

Then, a few days later, I’d gotten a well-reviewed film from last year, The Deep Blue Sea, from the library. I figured watching a grown-up film might be a good counterpoint to our recent entertaining if not life-changing DVD choices.

But oh, did we regret it. The movie opens with Rachel Weisz’s character narrating a letter, shutting the curtains, and turning on the gas to kill herself. We are then hurtled back and forth through time as we glimpse her former marriage to a sweet, if inept, older man with mummy issues and the subsequent hot romance with former fighter pilot Freddie, played by Tom Hiddleston.

The troubles we had with the film were many. By opening on an attempted suicide, then finding later what prompted it, I found it impossible to empathize with Weisz’s character. I felt sorry for the both the men in her life, not for her. G thinks a better title might be: Mentally Ill Woman in Post War England Doesn’t Get the Help She Needs.The classical score, by Barber, rose to excruciating volume at times, bludgeoning me with “feel something NOW!” Equally unsubtle was the contrast between opening scene (closing curtains on grey day) and closing scene (you guessed it: opening curtains on bright day.) And towards the end, there were more than a few times when I sensed Weisz reading lines rather than inhabiting a character, and it became clear to me that the suffocating story was adapted from a play. I depart from critical opinion that almost universally praised Weisz’ performance in another way, too, in that I didn’t care for the long tracking shot of a flashback scene set in the London underground during wartime. It felt long, tedious and mawkish, in its singalong of Molly Malone. Much more successful was a bar room singalong to You Belong to Me.

So, my husband and I did not care for this very well reviewed film, though we loved Veronica Mars and Princess Bride. Are we philistines? Perhaps. Or perhaps we just were not in the right frame of mind for a slow film about people’s differing definitions of love. Or perhaps it just wasn’t as good as all that. In any case, not recommended.

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