Review this movie
Dec 9, 2014I do not like how artificial all exchanges, gestures and statements appear in Gus Van Sant films - all actions feel overtly premeditated, as if rehearsed 100 times. There is nothing about a character's behavior which denotes normal human meaning. Overall his work comes across as too abstract, lacking in heart and genuine spontaneity. There is no fire - everything is 'too cool'. I observedI do not like how artificial all exchanges, gestures and statements appear in Gus Van Sant films - all actions feel overtly premeditated, as if rehearsed 100 times. There is nothing about a character's behavior which denotes normal human meaning. Overall his work comes across as too abstract, lacking in heart and genuine spontaneity. There is no fire - everything is 'too cool'. I observed this first in his terrifying-yet-disappointing and depressing "Elephant", a biopic inspired by the columbine massacre. None of the students acted like they were people - they acted like people acting like people. Given the huge cast and wide array of characters I'm afraid the blame for this falls squarely on Gus's shoulders. Perhaps he simply shouldn't be choosing his scripts. Good Will Hunting was a fantastic film that did not lack for heart. Why then, in the years proceeding from this, does he choose these sombre, ambient films with little or no humanity in them?
Each character is a sterile puppet, a purely symbolic entity that we cannot see into or interpret thought from. They're like place mat cards, a coffee-coaster, representative version of people. It feels like he's given them a set of rote tasks to perform, and in having to remember them, they have little time to emote. The only sense of emotion in this film is a sense of laconic depressiveness - much like The Virgin Suicides, Elephant, etc. Is this the only trick this one pony can do? Having seen Good Will, I don't think so, but Gus is quite happy retreading the same ground, hoping for recognition, without realizing that a failing approach is a potentially flawed approach. If there were some sense of progress, contrast in mood or form, there would be some sense of this being a film. Instead we get a film trying to be reality. As depressing as that is, as depressing as reality is, it's not a worthwhile approach. Because film never represents reality as well as reality does.
His films certainly Look pretty, but they leave you with no conclusion, no easy resolution, no lesson, and a deep feeling of emptiness. What, then, is their point? To make people feel worse? Sorry Gus, you've lost me. As for the biopic content of this film, I have no deep feelings either way. It's possible it would've had more impact if it'd been actually based on Kurt's life, but without that it's left feeling a little bit fragile.
Occasionally Gus will just focus on some bit of scenery and force the viewer to just Calm Down and just watch something peaceful for a while, which comes across a little bit patronizing. I can watch scenery all the time - I don't need to be instructed. Overall the film comes off as a whim, and an expensive one. It's irritating and intense and stupid. But at least the ending is tastefully and well done.… Expand