Both a masterpiece and a holy hell: Watching it, you feel you're being punished for a crime you didn't commit. Which puts you, come to think of it, in the same frame of mind as those poor Magdalene girls.
Even when you're able to guess the next calamity, it's still a shock in its ejaculatory intensity. The Farrellys never throw in the towel. Pretentious Sundance independents could learn a lot from such pistols.
A big, overlong, and rather unwieldy piece of storytelling, but the story it has to tell is so vital that it cuts through all the dramaturgical muddiness. It's a terrific muckraking melodrama--it will get people fuming.
It's the way Cuarón demonstrates how a simple teen comedy can suddenly blossom into a study of sexual mores, a Mexican political allegory, a song of lamentation -- and still be breezy and funny and sexy as hell.
The acting of this central trio is brilliant, in part because the crisscrossing of these and other stories and the gorgeous backdrops take some of the weight off: The characters are free to be flawed without losing our interest.
I confess I don't fully understand Danny's (or the movie's) zigs and zags, but I was glued to the thing anyway -- it has an inexplicable inner logic -- and I admire Bean for refusing to settle into any easy groove.
Caine makes Hampton's too-literary narration work by playing it as an inner dialogue: It's the best performance of narration I've ever heard. It makes you want to hear Caine read the whole book--or read anything.