|Index||5 reviews in total|
This movie has been seriously underrated by almost everyone except
Roger Ebert in his initial review. Surprisingly, it has never received
any kind of DVD release. This is one of those movies, released every
now and again, that are not only about another era, but actually
resemble a film of that era. Audiences never know what to do with them,
and consequently they are quickly dismissed or forgotten. Michael Bay's
"Pearl Harbor," Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula," and many of Cimino's
films fit this description, to some extent. In this case, the movie
resembles a WWII-era melodrama or even a 1950s Douglas Sirk or George
Stevens-style soap opera - including emotional soliliquies, naivete,
and occasional overacting.
Accept it for what it is, and you will find an exceptionally well-made, dramatically fluid film about revenge and old-style Latino family loyalty. The 1940s costumes, sets, and photography are excellent, as are Hutton, Hurt, and Leo's performances. In particular, Hutton displays the kind of 1940s pre-war innocence that's perfect for the role. In an era of cynicism, irony, and post-modernist history, such a movie has even less of a chance of finding an audience than when released, but I recommend it for fans of serious filmmaking.
Appropriate attention to detail is characteristic of this powerful, well-cast, and well-made melodrama with the action pivoting about a San Diego based Spanish Basque family, skillfully directed by Basque Mexican Gregory Nava and featuring effectual contributions from many members of the cast and crew. Two of cinema's ablest and most intense actors, William Hurt (who partially researched his role at the Center For Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno) and Timothy Hutton, perform here as brothers-in-law obliged by one's iniquity to resolve their fateful conflict with violence, while other singular performances come from Melissa Leo, Stockard Channing, and Megan Follows as siblings of the Larraneta family, and Francisco Rabal is impressive as paterfamilias of the clan. A potent scenario emphasizes love and revenge as primary emotions within a creatively edited work noteworthy for its brilliant cinematography and montage by Nava as well as director of photography James Glennon, the action shot principally in Croatia, Trieste, and southern California. Suspense, an essential element of any genre, permeates the film, extending from its opening scenes to a Hitchcockian flavoured climax, enhanced throughout by Hurt's dynamic reading and by finely wrought episodic Ennio Morricone scoring. Costumes of Durinda Wood, set designs by Anne Kuljian, and the first-rate production designing of Henry Bumstead (who also plays several pages as an army Colonel) are united in the accurate recreation of 1942/5 San Diego as well as war battered Italy, and pre-war autos employed are correct. The mentioned adherence to accuracy of detail is clearly evident during scenes filmed at the historic Santa Fe Depot in San Diego that is still in use, occasioning tactical concerns that are nicely handled. Also of interest to cinephiles are wigs topping many of the females, due to contemporary (1988) modes of shorter hair, and additionally avoidance of obvious non-period jewelry among both featured players and extras. The presence on the soundtrack of that ultimate Verdian soprano, Rosa Ponselle, reflects the posture of the film's creators toward constructing a vivid drama of grandly emotional proportions, an objective clearly attained with this woefully undervalued motion picture.
Melissa Leo truly is understated and under-appreciated in the Hollywood industry. She was the best female cop since Cagney and Lacey in Homicide. She truly is very attractive in Time of Destiny. I don't understand how Hollywood can forget such a beautiful presence of hers on screen. With such lovely hair and Irish features, she should easily be one of the hardest working women in show business. I'm shocked she hasn't received a nomination from Homicide. She is truly a scenestealer. I was so upset from Homicide's inconsideration and under appreciation of her talent so I gave up watching the show. What a dumb mistake to give her up! In this film, she chews the scenery away from William Hurt and Timothy Hutton. I believe this is her film and her turn. I just wish Hollywood would use this lady more. I wish Kay Howard would turn up on Law and Order since they always need a new cop.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A Time of Destiny is a very melodramatic film, some might even compare it to a soap opera albeit a very good one. It does have one thing that makes the film captivating to watch and that's William Hurt's performance as Martin. He plays a man who is an outsider to his family. A man that has no emotional connections with anyone and has been living with suppressed pain for so long. This performance is one of the most heart breaking and painful performances I have ever seen and I can't imagine it not haunting any viewer who can see and understand the situation. We see a man filled with so much inner turmoil and pain that he feels vengeance is the only way to salvage it. If there is any such thing as a flawless performance then William Hurt has given it here. It's without a doubt his best.
"A Time of Destiny", set during WWII, tells of a duplicitous "black sheep" son's quest to avenge his father's death by killing his brother-in-law, a fellow soldier. An obvious melodrama with numerous nonsequiturs required to make the story work, acting so perfect as to be unreal, and technical and artistic mediocrity, "....Destiny" makes for a marginal watch at best. Okay for hard up couch potatoes into melodrama.
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