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K. Anthony Appiah,
I read the book several years ago, and didn't remember much of it, beyond being fascinated by the psychological-philosophical explorations of the legendary characters and intrigued by the migraine issues that Nietszche and Breuer attempt to solve. But the book is deeply intellectual, and it was difficult to imagine it translated to the screen. Unfortunately, the director's interpretation falls very limp indeed, despite valiant attempts by a cast of worthy actors.
Melodrama substitutes in most scenes for subtlety and quiet depth. Two-dimensional beauty in the female characters substitutes for the much harder to convey inner beauty.
I found the heavy-handed artificial accents maintained by all to be especially distracting, if not constantly irritating -- the thick German/Austrian/Russian accents were like bad scenery pulling the focus from any authentic expression of the characters. The wisdom of Nietszche is disappointingly obscured in this mediocre effort.
"And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
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