24 October 2010
Much like when I tried to read the novel (which, to sum up, I eventually never finished because although I quite liked the world and the characters, I found the narrative voice and structure to feel rough-drafty and distractingly amateur... deliberate or not, it kept dragging me out of the story), I wish so desperately I could have gone into this unspoiled by knowing what it was about (which is how my girlfriend was as we watched it). It's not built at all to be a story about twists and shocks, but it would have been a nice story to experience along with the characters, rather than knowing throughout the entire first act what the Big Mystery was that the children did not understand. Anyway that wasn't a dealbreaker for me, and it's the same experience one would have watching the film having read the (entire) novel anyhow, so it's not really worth griping about, that I knew what Hailsham was all about.
What I did find at least a tiny bit of a dealbreaker was how fast the film moved. We never really went very deep into the moments of the story, the conflicting, confused, unusual emotions of the characters in this world. I'm perfectly okay (kind of grateful, even) that the story never delves into the logistics of a world with (SPOILER) organ harvesting from cloned children raised specifically for that purpose. It felt a little odd that nobody ever addressed the possibility (or impossibility) of running away from the program and living a fuller life as a refugee, but for the most part I'm okay with that, too. But I wanted more details of their lives, more engagement with their situation... more something. It felt rushed, and a little bit glib, and the whole movie I only felt captivated on an intellectual level, thinking about the situation and the ethics of it and everything, but never feeling for them or relating it to my own fears and experiences. It never broke the surface for me. It feels like it could have been a three hour film. That is to say, it feels like it should have been.
To be fair, my girlfriend's experience was quite different. Going in expecting (hilariously) a romantic comedy (and not understanding why I was so keen to see it), she felt a gratifyingly emotional connection to the story and its characters, and although she too had criticisms of the story when all was said and done, it clearly struck her in just the way I'd wanted it to strike me. So that's something. Maybe it's just me, and my foreknowledge of act one, and maybe the movie deserves more credit. I wanted more of a gut-punch than a chin-scratch, but maybe it's just me that didn't get it. (Also, I'm told the UK audiences loved it, so maybe it played well into a more reserved mindset of crowd, or maybe that's a horrible stereotype. Or maybe both.) This devolved a little into chaos. These things happen. I'm on a borrowed laptop, and I'm starting to become self-conscious about how self-conscious I am (you read that right). New rule: no more apologies for brief, scattered, or one-sided posts.
Seen at the Regal Fox Tower.