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I saw Sensation of Sight on Friday night at the Denver Film Festival. I thought it was a very good film with an excellent ensemble cast. The audience at the screening gave a round of applause and seemed to have a very positive reaction. The story realistically portrays a small circle of people struggling to communicate their feelings of grief and loss, although there is a nice touch of the mystical as well. The first time writer and director, Aaron Wiederspahn was there and spoke at the screening along with David Strathairn, Scott Wilson, Ian Somerhalder, Ann Cusack, Elisabeth Waterson and Joseph Mazzello. The cast unanimously spoke well of the director and their experience making the film. They all stayed at the same bed and breakfast shown in the movie and shot it in 18 days; true independent film making.
I refuse to reveal anything about this movie because I want you to see
it like I saw it, without any knowledge of what it was about. If you
haven't seen this film yet, and are about to see it, I envy you.
I loved this film so much that I couldn't even speak to my girlfriend after it was over. I was overcome with emotions that no film has ever revealed in me. My girlfriend said it was probably the best film she was ever seen (!!!!). The next week after seeing it, we brought (no exaggeration) 7 friends to see it with us again. we all sat in the theater for about 15 minutes with the lights on wiping our eyes and talking about it.
I am not expecting everyone to have the same reaction I did, but a lot of these comments on this page are very oddly negative, like in a real angry way. even if it doesn't speak to you, this as a small, thoughtful, extremely well made film that doesn't deserve to be crapped on as if it was Transformers 3.
If you are someone who appreciates films with REAL depth that reward your attention, are not insulting to your intelligence and that are moving in an authentic way, then you will love this film.
I saw The Sensation of Sight at Two Boots in New York last week, and I'm still thinking about it. It's a mesmerizing trip into the soul -- funny, moving, frightening and exhilarating. The viewer must be willing to be drawn in - like a marvelous puzzle or mystery, it requires audience participation to yield its treasure. And David Straithairn makes that easy. Every conceivable emotion, thought, confusion, amusement, pain - a deep portrait of man - is all there in his face. His is a phenomenal performance, but he's just the center. Spinning around him are a marvelous, amusing, touching gallery of characters and performances - male and female, old, young, and children. A whole town's soul is exorcised here, and it is beautifully shot. First rate tech.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Imagine that a high-school drama teacher assigns each of his class
members to write a script. Rules? A small town; people with various
Do whatever you like.
Then, bring the cast together to exchange scripts (no editing needed); then go. So you act out someone else's script and then periodically the drama teacher points to 2 of you and says "scene" - they come together and ad lib.
The Sensation of Sight isn't close to this good. It's the worst kind of semi-experimental semi-exploratory, uh, drama.
Amazing though because the protagonist and others in the cast are decent actors.
This film was so boring it made me fall asleep, literally. I was fully aware beforehand that I was about to embark on what might be a seriously hard-core drama, which I was in the mood for. I will give it big kudos for acting, direction and cinematography. Some scenes and camera work are borderline stunning. I also found this film to be rather confusing. In the beginning it's fragmented like a psychological thriller, giving us bits and pieces of the characters lives and apparently how all are intertwined, or will be. But the extreme subtlety of the story dragged the exceptional acting through the mud, making any kind of interest or connection between the characters and viewer almost non-existent. I liken this film to watching the watercolors of a Claude Monet painting dry, you know the end result will be something visually extraordinary but the process getting there isn't engaging at all. When I woke to realize the DVD had ended, I had no desire to resume where it had left off.
If titles are useful indicators of what a film has in store, then The
Sensation of Sight must be a very profound 134 minutes. Trouble is,
first time director and writer Aaron Wiederspahn's ambitions heavily
outweigh his ability to actually make a profound film. As is usually
the case, wanting to be profound and actually being profound is an
ocean apart and, unfortunately, TSOS is no exception.
TSOS's multiple characters all wear their angst on their sleeves and each of them stumbles through life burdened by their past, tortured in the present and bouncing off each other for the sole purpose of pulling out little bits of profundity from one another. This not so subtle device is used in excess as a means to propel the story and illuminate each enigmatic character's back story one tidbit at a time. But little of TSOS's overt melodrama feels sincere, instead it's authorial voice screams from rooftops at how deep and emotionally powerful the writer's words are. The stabs at deeper meaning are telegraphed through a series of overwrought contrivances, making it very difficult to identify with characters who do unnatural things, spew writerly dialogue and awkwardly interact with one another for the sole purpose of forwarding narrative. In many ways, TSOS is reminiscent of Paul Haggis' Crash, another heavily contrived film that will stop at nothing to prove to you how profound it is. While Crash barely manages to pull off the impossible, TSOS falls short.
Despite it's weaknesses, TSOS does possess a quiet charm, a quality that comes through in it's slow pacing, attention to minutiae and simple yet poetic photography. It also possesses an effectively minimal soundtrack punctuated with occasional injections of indie rock gems. Nevertheless, Wiederspahn's inexperience as a filmmaker seeps into TSOS and it never manages to escape the suffocating voice of its author. There's a good chance Wiederspahn has the tools and the sensitivity to mature into a uniquely talented and individual filmmaker, but unless you've got 2 plus hours to dispense on potential, you might be better off waiting for his next film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie is very pretty but thats pretty much all it has going for it.
The pace is so slow it's excruciating at times, a good hour could have
been shaved off without losing anything.
The characters are two dimensional, and even having good actors in many roles could not save them.
The movie starts off asking why and by the end, hasn't even answered its own question. We don't know why, the characters still don't know why, but in the end it doesn't matter because magically Finn is healed of his misery. Maybe he just needed a good cry? That seems to be what the film is saying.
The other characters don't appear to be as lucky as Finn though, their problems still exist, but never mind that because the boring, flat, two dimensional Finn is okay now.
At the end all i wanted to know, was why the hell I subjected myself to that? Take my advice and use the two hours you would have spent on this to do something much more productive. Like watch paint dry.
I got to see this movie for the second time at the Boston Independent
Film Festival (29 April 2007) and my admiration grows. On first viewing
much of my brain was occupied with figuring out what was going on and
how the sub-plots related. On second viewing I got to enjoy many of the
subtler aspects of the script and the performances, which are all first
This is a demanding movie. It's complex, the story is revealed slowly and non-linearly, and many of the areas of personality and philosophy it explores are dark. But there's also great humor, easily understood echoes of "Our Town" and "It's A Wonderful Life", and a satisfactory resolution.
Great writing and marvelous acting, beautifully captured on film. And it definitely repays repeated viewing.
New Hampshire provides a picturesque setting for this indie feature,
with a fine performance by David Strathairn as a grief stricken English
teacher who has dropped out and is walking the town, pulling a child's
wagon behind him filled with encyclopedias to sell door to door.
Along the way, he meets an odd assortment of people in this character driven drama. A single mother, a widowed father with a teen daughter, a loner, and other every day, ordinary men and women, just struggling to survive in this cold cruel world. Strathairn is Finn, the philosophical everyman, meeting these fellow travelers on his wandering journey, with books of knowledge to offer the public. The story is in the vein of some of John (The World According to Garp) Irving's work, but missing his darker, humorous aspects. Finn is a compelling figure, but the movie meanders along for over two hours, which, in the end, wore me out.
Like short stories, poems, and songs, films either "work" or they don't. By "work" I mean, the piece has coherence, proper pacing, narrative drive, artistic elan, sufficient seriousness, psychological and emotional depth, but also a certain clarity that can't be feigned. Sad to say, THE SENSATION OF SIGHT doesn't work, i.e., it doesn't engage, fascinate, or absorb the viewer into its world. To cite one feature among many, David Strathairn's character, Finn, is one of those inscrutably quirky characters often found in indies, i.e., a dispirited but otherwise sane and articulate high school English teacher who has taken to carting around a wagon full of Encyclopedia Britannicas that he tries to sell to local townsfolk--for reasons that remain murky. In a word, Finn is a droll walking-talking caricature, not a real person and therefore impossible to credit with a sense of reality. Ditto for most of the other denizens of this whimsical little world. Young writer-director Aaron J. Wiederspahn exhibits glimmers of film-making ability but SENSATION OF SIGHT is a film that tries too hard to be "profound" and merely ends up being tedious.
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