04 March 2010

In A Lonely Place *

(My first repeat offender this year, not what I would have guessed, but they were playing a restored film print, how could I say no?)

Watching this again, I paid more attention to character than dialogue. I don't know why it never struck me before, but this is one of the meanest, most complex characters I've watched Bogart play, ranging dynamically from rageful to apologetic, from arrogant to self-pitying, and yeah, it's a capital-m Melodrama, but Bogart really sells the character to you. It's basically the story of a troubled-genius and the story of an abusive relationship rolled up together, plus the story of two lovers on the cusp between success and failure and the external pressure that destroys what they have. It moves fast from beat to beat (older movies tend to, and melodramas especially) but each beat feels lived in, loved, and carefully played out. Never cheap or easy, never simple or boring. The characters are contradictory and (therefore) believable, and Humphrey Bogart is still one of my favorite screen actors from Before My Time.

Seen at Cinema 21.

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