Such a frustrating disappointment
It’s not bad or unwatchable but despite the amplitude of the spectacle, the end result is underwhelming.
Through painfully honest and emotional moments, the movie becomes irresistibly relatable
Kate Winslet carries the movie with an impeccable performance, going from hope and being in love to anger, jealousy and frustration. And she definitely takes us with her.The story is simple and opens plenty room for the characters and relations to develop. Pace is good and the dialogues are clever, as expected.Justin Timberlake did a good job and for the first time I forgot my prejudice against him. Juno temple was great. The only real misfit or miscast was Jim Belushi. Something about his act seemed unnatural.
Allusions to O'Neill and Hamlet, the mood of inevitable tragedy, well acted and well presented. A worthy evening's entertainment.
The stylisms of this movie are clear; the lighting the limited sets. It is like a theatre play, which of course is the whole point. Theatre itself is an important theme in this movie, hence why three of the four characters (everyone else is window dressing) are actors or writers.Yet the power of the characterisations and acting helps communicate the complexities of emotion, despite all its surface level appearances. It seems like any other Woody Allen movie, when Timberlake's character talks to the camera, and we assume everything will be light and comedic and there will be some adulterous hi jinx, which there is, but underneath the shiny surface are a couple of deeply frustrated artists, two characters with such shifting and complex emotions. Of course, Winslet's character has the limelight, and the complexity there... well, when the final act swings in, Timberlake is no longer talking to the camera and it reaches a different plain. Is it a plot twist (albeit an expected one) for the sake of it, or is the bored housewife desperate to be in a true drama (dressed all up in her Shakespearian costume), and thus creates one.
I can see coming to this a bit later why it got some negative reviews and didn't do well with audiences: our main character here (as seen through the eyes of lifeguard Justin Timberlake), as played by Kate Winslet, is a miserable person. I don't know how much of that translated as her being just unhappy or that her misery turned her so much into being unlikable that it turned off audiences. It's certainly not an easy movie to take in that regard, as Ginny is not someone who is only in a loveless marriage (that may be arguable too as Jim Belushi's character has love for her, just not much on the return side), or with a hopeless kid (who is a pyro, which I'll get to in a moment), but who's dreams were completely dashed for... one of those ordinary, hard-knock lives that, well, we all leave. I think if Woody Allen had tried to present this script to Brian Cox in ADAPTATION he'd have been yelled at and forced out of his class.While Ginny is unhappy and ultimately does some bad things (one that she can never walk back from even if she tried), I think it was wise for Allen to cast Kate Winslet. Like Cate Blanchett a couple years ago in Blue Jasmine, this is a BIG character in how she projects herself, only her delusions of grandeur only come out when she isn't quite so unhappy around the Timberlake character. She wanted to be an actress but had to give it up, as so many of us give up the things we want to be or strive for, to... marry and have a kid (though a former husband/lover is alluded to as well). On top of this, the whole surrounding I think has to be deliberate; set this movie on a regular street corner and it wouldn't have the same pop. Here, there may be a suggestion of the carnival going on with the setting on Coney Island - Allen channeling Fellini and other giant-emotional Italian filmmakers but on a different level - as there's all this fun around everyone and yet life is the continuous struggle it always is, and compounded by that.But back to Winslet, there's something about her as a presence on screen where you instinctively want to feel sympathy for her, and her star quality lends itself to that (maybe Allen was aiming for a sort of Joan Crawford thing here too, I can't be sure). I think with someone else, it would be much more difficult to watch what Ginny does and becomes her, the decisions she makes with this "poetic" lifeguard, and that the tone is SO theatrical. The lighting reflects this too, as Storaro in some scenes will change the lighting as if it were on stage, as characters like Ginny talk about something and it becomes redder or bluer or more orange or white. The setting helps to accentuate this, and I liked that aspect of it. And along with Winslet, Belushi, Temple and Timberlake are playing to the balcony.Again, I can see why this doesn't work for a lot of people. There were times watching it when I thought it was going TOO big even within the context Allen had set up. And it's not exactly the newest kind of ground for Allen (though in full disclosure, infidelity dramas are like catnip for me). But I still felt engaged because the writing of them was interesting, and I found it fascinating how Allen was navigating this look and feel that was hyper-realistic, of the color scheme being so bright and popping out like out of a selection of postcards from the era, and yet having dialog that attempts at least to stay in realism... except when monologues come flying and the theatrical comes around again. And Ginny's son fits in as a running-gag as metaphor; no matter what traditional punishment comes (spanking) or in psychological ways (therapy), the kid will continue to burn things because the fire is... something that's tangible, I suppose (love doesn't seem to be there at any rate - do we ever see Ginny actually show affection for her son? Doesn't seem like it to me, with the migranes and self-involvement).I'm not sure it all works, but enough of it did, plus the performances, that I'd put it in the category (like Cafe Society) as a very strong minor work (or a decent major one).