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This is a beautiful and rare look at rural America in the 1960s. Dennis
Hopper plays a schoolteacher with a gimpy leg who is quite unexceptional.
He's middle-aged but still only engaged (to Amy Irving who is fantastic in
this!)and still lives with his aged mother (the wonderful Julie Harris).
Suddenly, a young, fresh, beautiful and vibrant teenager arrives at his
school and he finds his heart - and other vital organs - stirred beyond
endurance. She's technically not innocent (she's not a virgin) but she's no
Lolita either. She's the epitome of the young women of Andrew Wyeth's
paintings. In fact, the whole film looks and feels like a Wyeth painting:
organic and idyllic with an emptiness that's filed with loneliness. The
script is intelligent and original, allowing each character to be fully
developed, and Dennis Hopper gives the performance of his
I've read a few reviews here and elsewhere that complain about Hopper's age and the frontal nudity. I belong to the school of thought that nothing natural is ugly, and that art should not ALWAYS be pure and youthful and beatific (which BTW, was what Hitler's vision was. Art that wasn't beautiful was classified as "degenerate" and banned). If there's room for artists like Michelangeo and Egon Schiele in this world, and there's surely room for Brad Pitt AND Dennis Hopper!
If the nude body is something that you just can't look at then a film like this may not be for you (there's only one very brief scene). But keep in mind that you can't broaden your vision of humanity if you don't have an open mind and are willing to look below the superficial surface that at least in Hollywood, poses as reality.
Sometimes it's completely incomprehensible to understand how "Carried
Away", the excellent film by Brazilian director Bruno Barreto, is
perceived by some of the contributors to this forum. "Carried Away" is
a movie based on a novella by Jim Harrison with a fine screenplay by Ed
Jones, who does a fine job in adapting it for the viewer. Mr. Barreto
is not a timid man, as he has shown in his other films. While most
people object to the graphic nudity, it is never in one's face, or
something that is done for shock value, like some other directors tend
to do whenever they don't have anything better to say.
The story about a sensitive man who has been left somewhat crippled after a childhood accident in the farm where he lives, presents us a man in turmoil. His life, while not completely shattered, is in total disarray as one meets him, years after he suffered the foot injury. Joseph Svenden is basically a decent man. We watch him in the rural school where he teaches, and later on, working in the farm where he lives with his older mother. Joseph is clearly a man whose life has passed him by because since he never married, he has stayed behind with the mother, while his siblings are all settled and living away.
Joseph is seeing Rosalee, another teacher from his school. They have a cozy arrangement. Neither of them is in a rush to formalize their relationship. At this point of his life, Joseph falls for one of his students, Catherine, who obviously is way ahead of him in being sexually active. She seduces the quiet man, who falls head over heels with this young woman, who comes from an unhappy home. In fact, we have no clue until almost the end, when Catherine's parents come to confront Joseph, what's wrong with the young woman.
The kind Rosalee finds out in the worst way about Joseph's infidelity, sending her into despair because she loves the man. Joseph confronts Rosalee and owns up to his transgression. Joseph's feelings for Rosale make him finally see where his priorities ought to be. The last sequence of Joseph and Rosalee at the beach has to be one of the loveliest moments in the film.
Dennis Hopper plays Joseph to perfection. Mr. Hopper is believable in his low key approach to the role. He is an actor who works well with any director, and it seems to us he is responding well to Mr. Barreto's guidance. Amy Irving, an actress of great beauty and inner power, shows a Rosalee that shows no emotion at all, but we know all is well under control inside her, until the explosion at the end when she feels betrayed by the man she loves. Ms. Irving does excellent work in the film. Amy Locane, plays Catherine as a brat who wants to get what she wants, when she wants it. Mr. Locane is a beautiful sight on the screen. The rest of the cast, Hal Halbrook, Julie Harris, Gary Busey, and the rest, are seen at their best.
Thanks to Bruno Barreto for bringing this lovely character study to the screen.
I'm a big fan of Dennis Hopper - and this is one of his best works. I'm
not sure if he came to the script or if this was just the perfect
vehicle for his ability to play complexity - but such doesn't really
Busey was excellent when he's usually too much. Hal Holbrook was solid.
The story was one that middle-aged men are frequently (more often than we may expect) confronted with. This was the most unsensational, honest, and thoughtful presentation of the conflict I've ever watched. Great flick for the thoughtful.
There was a very sexual content - but never was it gratuitous. Every scene had a purpose. It was a rare film in that if you wanted to be entertained, it did that. If you wanted to provoke thought, it did that, too. How involved do you want to be?
If you enjoy movies that leave you taking more than one position, and arguing with yourself about what is "right" this is the kind of flick you'd enjoy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The scattered farm houses and barns look bleak, like something out of
Hawthorne. In this rural area of Michigan, Dennis Hopper is a teacher
with a limp. Because the school is being incorporated by a town and
Hopper has no credentials, he's losing his job, though he's been
teaching there for years. He's having a more or less ritualized affair
with the widow Amy Irving. They make love in the dark and never do
anything new. He yearns to see the ocean. Hopper's mother, Julie
Harris, is dying and is tended by the sensitive but unemotional family
doctor, Hal Holbrook.
Then a new family movies into the area. The father is a retired army major, Gary Busey, and he's a crack shot. His wife is referred to as an alcoholic but his seventeen-year-old daughter, Amy Locane, is a blond Viking knockout. She comes on to the hobbling Hopper in the hayloft. Oh, yummy, he says, leading with Hopper Junior, which is always a big mistake.
Well, these farmhouses and auxiliary buildings aren't all THAT widespread and before you know it, Hopper may have enlivened his life with some sexual adventure, but the enterprise becomes common knowledge. Why, even her father, the marksman Busey, finds out about it -- and we know from earlier scenes that he likes to kill coyotes because they're treacherous and will sneak away with one of your chickens if you give them half a chance.
So far, so dull, right? How many cheap movies have we seen about an innocent older man being seduced by some silky teen ager? Sometimes the film is called "Lolita," sometimes "Poison Ivy," and sometimes "The Crush." Add a stern father who is fond of guns and we can expect a shoot out at the end, adding formulaic violence to formulaic sex.
In this instance, those assumptions are all wrong. It's a decent movie, even a good movie. The characters aren't nearly as stereotyped as one might think. Locane's temptress with her long and lustrous blond hair, always holding her shoulders back to emphasize her modest bosom, isn't a vicious psychotic, just an ordinary, rather empty-headed high school kid who has been sexually active for a while and manages to convince herself that she's going to marry her teacher.
Amy Locane, alas, can't really act, but everyone else does a fine job. Julie Harris in particular, as Hopper's Norwegian mother dying of cancer, is superb. She doesn't have that much screen time but she makes the most of it, never whining, and making only one matter-of-fact speech about dying. The pain is "like having a baby every day." Hopper gets to strip naked and he's in good shape for a forty-seven year old, although, to be sure, his figure is nothing compared to Locane's. Amy Irving gets to strip too, and although she's no longer the svelte high-schooler of her earlier movies, she looks just fine.
Not to suggest that EVERYBODY gets to strip. Gary Busey doesn't get to strip. His job is to pose the threat that hangs in the air around the guilt-ridden Dennis Hopper. Someone warns Hopper: "The major knows about it. He's coming to see you." The shaky Hopper hides in the barn with a hunting rifle and a pint of booze, waiting for Busey to arrive.
Busey does arrive apace, but when Hopper calls to him from the loft and asks if he's armed, Busey's reply is that of a thoroughly civilized human being -- "Now why would I be armed?" And when they talk inside Hopper's house, Busey exhibits a good deal of carefully controlled common sense. I know my daughter, he says, "and I figure it was probably less than half your idea." Not at all what you'd expect in a trashy movie.
I won't spell out any more of the plot, but I ought to mention the evocative location shooting by Declan Quinn and the production design by Peter Paul Raubertas. These skills are often overlooked but, when exercised with care, they contribute immeasurably to a movie's success. This was shot in Texas instead of Michigan but it doesn't matter. There are other felicities, some of them symbolic, some establishing continuity, that I'll skip because of considerations of space. (Eg., Hopper trying to play the Hungarian Dances on the piano and, though imperfect, improving a little with each try.) It's a deliberately paced movie about characters and their dreams and the extinction and fulfillment of those dreams. A nice job by all concerned, though I'm not sure everyone could muster the patience required of the viewer.
It's been interesting to watch Dennis Hopper grow up in films, from the skinny, scared kid in "The Sons of Katie Elder", to his iconic role as Billy in "Easy Rider", to the whacked-out journalist in "Apocalypse Now", to this thoroughly middle-aged character. Here, he is the ultimate grown-up, at least at first, who feels the need to go back to years past in the idea of love/sex with the young student. He nailed his part. Amy Irving nailed hers, too, though it was a bit of a smaller part. Amy Locane provided the eye candy, for us as well as for Joseph Svenden (Hopper). Harder to understand her character's (Catherine) motivations. I can see that the pickings were pretty slim in that time and place, but the 47-year-old semi-crippled more-or-less engaged teacher? This film is worth seeing, if you can take some fairly unsettling images (Hopper naked). Grade: B
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've been turned off by the braggadocio of Dennis Hopper's acting style
before, so I was tremendously surprised by how much I enjoyed his
performance in this movie. Bruno Baretto's direction was superb. He has
a gift for conveying the feel of the time and place his story was set
in. The overall themes were honest and the acting was earnest all
It was a pleasant surprise to find Hopper's character choosing the authenticity of Amy Irving's time-worn beauty over Amy Locane's evanescent nubile hotness. Aside from the incongruities of Hopper playing 47 at age 60 and Amy Locane playing 17 at age 25, it was a beautifully done film.
And yes, it is possible for the implausible dynamic of this film to find similar parallels in 'real life.' I met my longtime boyfriend when I was 26 and he was 57, and yes, I am a babe, and no, he has no money.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From time to time I come upon a film that is revolting, but that I am
sure that could be recut from existing footage and made into a fine
project. This is such a film. Changing just the score might tip it into
tolerable. What's there now is a syrupy Hallmark violin jelly that
swells when the composer thinks we should be following expected
Superficially, this is a simple redemption story: an "old" man (at 47!) is tied to his mother and is reluctant to marry the long time love of his life. She is the war widow of his best friend. The crisis that makes things end happily (in that artificial cinematic notion of happiness) is his affair with a damaged 17 year old. She is a seductive student of his. He gets "carried away" with the girl, repents and then teaches his real love to do the same with him.
At this level, we have little material on which to build a successful narrative. But it has Dennis Hopper in one of his strong acting periods. I watched this because he recently died, and I miss him.
There is one device here that could never be made to work, and it seems to have come from the inept director. Hopper's character is a teacher in a one-room rural school, to be imminently closed. He is an uneducated man himself; but is a teacher because his long-time love is one and he has a bad leg leaving him unfit for farming.
But he is a poetry enthusiast, knows the passion of a possible life and tries to pass it on to his students. This is crudely represented by his desire to play on the beach. He has a painting of a beach which the filmmaker uses as a visual representation of poetry and the urges it stirs. Being "carried away" in this sophomoric sense means being taken by passion to the beach, which (no fooling) happens at the end. Midway in the movie, the girl drops and breaks the painting. This never could have worked. It and the immature score work against the thing.
But there are some powerful, key scenes. If the filmmaker (or his producers) wasn't working against himself these three scenes by themselves with Hopper could have made this memorable, penetrating. They all are rooted in the barn.
We are introduced to Hopper's character as he awakes before dawn, leaves his bed and the house where his mother is dying. He goes to the barn. There he milks the cow, with whom, we discover, he is more emotionally open than to any person. This is the first of the three anchor barn scenes. It sticks because it is so early in the narrative and because Hopper makes it so.
Later, the teen girl places her horse in that barn and the rutting begins. He naively believes it will stay in the barn, but of course it "gets out." We have some nudity from this lovely young girl, enough for it to register as a token of her openness. This is linked to the horse, which she rides for sexual pleasure. We see her nude on the horse. It is clumsily done, but we get the message that her sex in his world is her horse in his barn.
The next anchor scene makes my heart ache. We have learned that the girl's father is a rough military type, at home killing things. We have seen the two men together, competitively hunting and we have had the pecking order established. We learn as Hopper's character does that the father is coming to get him for screwing his daughter.
Now what happens works because of Hopper. He gets the hunting rifle that has been a treasured gift just received from the doctor who cared for the man's just deceased (a few days) mother. It is by way of a bereavement token. He goes to the barn, by now the well established space for his internal being. In the same loft where he lost himself in the girl's body, he takes up a sniper's position, intent on killing the Colonel by surprise. The emotion Hopper conveys is built on an entire life and we get it all.
He spies a wolf, already discussed as impossible in that area a noble animal, free. The man has a clean shot and chooses not to take it. Again, Hopper makes the soul fly. Then the scene is abruptly defused with deliberate, punctuating skill.
The final anchor scene... the young girl shows up at the man's house. He has already conquered his passions and gently rejects her advances. She knows this and admits that she has set the barn on fire. Her horse runs from the barn ablaze and dies (thankfully offscreen, but the concept is revolting). The next morning we see Hopper walk out to the now smoldering barn just as his cow comes in from the field to be milked. The two ponder needs, the future and the ruins.
Making a powerful narrative is in part an understanding of these key images and when to invest. Hopper did.
The filmmaker is not so clean. He works in three other scenes associated with the women. Hopper's mature love (Amy Irving) in a nude coming out, the girl in a scene where she rewins him after a rough car ride and the dying mother coming clean about her desires for her son. Each of these had juice. But none of them really work because they had not had a place built for them in the narrative.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, seeing Dennis Hopper naked is not something that was on my list
of things to do in my lifetime, but it was not the abomination that
some of the reviews make it out to be. I give Hopper and the director
and screenwriter a lot of credit for fearlessly letting it all hang
out, as it were, when that privilege is usually reserved for the
"beautiful people" of Hollywood. That's what people look like -- it's
just not such a big deal (no offense intended, Dennis).
My vote places this film into what I consider the vast "average" category. There are some issues here. Casting is one of them. Amy Locane was 25 playing 17 in this film. No sale. I have a 17 year old son, and not a one of his female friends looks much like Amy Locane. She was just not a convincing teenager. I realize that there are issues with having an actual seventeen year old in this role, but the casting director should have worked a little harder to find a more convincing actor for such a pivotal role. Locane invoked Lolita's aunt that works at Hooters more than she invoked Lolita.
Hopper was quite good as the male lead, acting out the fantasy that Sting and the Police put to music so many years ago. Amy Irving was quite good as the "comfortable" love interest.
Still, this story was rather predictable. The middle-aged teacher climbs out of his routine by having a sexual fling with one of his students, with predictable unhappy results. Still, despite the unhappy results, the fling was life-affirming over against all those stifling impulses that compel us into the comfort and safety of the routine.
This re-telling of the Lolita tale put a somewhat more human face on the lonely, love-lorn middle-aged man, but may have replaced that image with the notion that such relationships are really the fault of the young nymphettes who tempt them. That is a troublesome notion. Relationships such as this one need not necessarily be portrayed in terms of "victimization," but to the extent that there was a victim in this film, it was the teacher, the authority figure, who was the victim of the slutty teen-aged girl. In a sense, I guess that completes the Lolita fantasy -- that it is the young woman who creates and insist upon the relationship to the point that the resistant will of the older man is overcome. That image is a fantasy to the Nth degree.
Nonetheless, this is a reasonably entertaining little evening's diversion for the thoughtful performances of Hopper, Irving and Gary Busey as Catherine's father. I wouldn't go out of my way to find it, but if it shows up again on IFC, it's worth a look.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We don't really get to understand the meaning of the title until the
very last scene or two. It is a reference to doing something different,
perhaps spontaneous, perhaps even 'naughty' instead of always doing the
safe thing. As in when someone might say 'don't get carried away'. He
did get 'carried away.'
This is a love story between two people who are 30 years apart in age, in the 1960s. But it is also a love story about two same-aged teachers who have been friends for life, and have come to take each other for granted.
Dennis Hopper, who was closer to 60, is 47-year-old teacher Joseph Svenden, living on a spread with his house and a barn and a small amount of land. He is 'dating' Amy Irving as Rosealee Henson, a fellow teacher and widow in this small rural community. They have a very safe relationship, they never 'get carried away.'
Things get more interesting and more complicated when Amy Locane, who was probably 23 during filming, as 17-year-old Catherine Wheeler moves into the area to attend school and also ends up boarding her horse with Svenden. She is smart and experimental and quickly sizes up Svenden as an easy mark. One day soon after her horse arrives, he finds Catherine in the hay loft of the barn. They chat a bit, then she takes off her top to reveal a really nicely sculpted physique without a bra. What is a man, a schoolteacher, to do, since she is 17 and she is a student of his?
The movie never delves into the deep moral or legal aspects of the situation. Instead it is a study of a man who is living out life with no excitement whatever and wondering how it would be to get 'carried away' before he dies.
Gary Busey is good as Major Nathan Wheeler, Catherine's dad. Also good is veteran Hal Holbrook as the local physician, Doctor Evans, who sees just about everything that goes on in the community but does not judge too harshly. He understands what human nature is all about.
SPOILERS: That first day when she takes off her top, Svenden is at first very surprised, then leaves the barn, but outside sees his elderly mother through the screen, weak and frail, then turns around and goes back to the, saying "I believe we should make love." Later we hear him tell that is was because he wanted to get 'carried away' for once. There is another scene, where he gets undressed in Rosealee's house, and encourages her to do so also, in spite of her reluctance. They had made love many times, in the dark, but this time he wanted them to 'get carried away' and do something daring. In the end everyone learned about the ongoing affair he was having with the student, even her dad understood, and in the very end Svenden and Rosealee appear to be headed for a life together, getting 'carried away' by romping into the sea surf in their street clothes.
Yesterday, I heard about the death of Dennis Hopper. I remembered
buying a VHS copy of this film quite some time ago, but never watched
it. Hearing it was one of his better roles, I thought it would be a
suitable tribute to the man.
"Carried Away" is the sort of film loved above all others by a certain type of audience. There's guilt, tragedy, alienation, and most of all - sex. "Carried Away" is the sort of film that always feels like winter, even if made in the middle of summer. It probably takes place in the 1970s, though that's never specified. This is not normally the sort of film I like. But there's a number reasons why it is so good. Mainly, the actors. Dennis Hopper is every bit as impressive as he's ever been, playing a character of painful reality and depth. Hal Holbrook, Julie Harris, and Gary Busey are all quite welcome as well. Amy Locane is interesting, playing on a complex level of childishness and convincing sexuality.
I got a lot of "Carried Away", because it has a lot put into it. The humanity is a basic thing, the details of ordinary actions, the observation of a slow day. In the end, the film is a little too hard and cold for its own good. It wants to make you feel cold in the summer, but that's just an illusion. Like black & white in colour. This could have been a bright, vivid film to even greater effect. But that's just a minor complaint.
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