Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
Returning from Navy service in World War II, Freddie Quell drifts through a series of breakdowns. Finally he stumbles upon a cult which engages in exercises to clear emotions and he becomes deeply involved with them. Written by
Alan Young, edit Hal Issen
The Rorschach "Ink Blot" cards in the hospital scene with the psychologist are real ones. However, he skips from card I to card IV which violates the very strict rules of Rorschach administration. See more »
When Freddie is first seen visiting Doris' house, aluminum stick-on numbers are visible in the establishing shot, giving a street number. These numbers didn't' come onto the market until the 1960's- long after the time when the scene takes place. See more »
According to the history here, I notice that you say you saw a vision of your mother, tell me about that, tell me what happened.
[speaking over him]
No it wasn't a vision, it was a dream.
Well tell me about the dream.
I need to know.
Why you need to know?
This will help in your treatment.
You can't help in my treatment, you don't even know... Well, it was my mother and my father and me and... back home. And... we're sitting around a table... and drinks... laughing. And it just sort of ended...
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Well, I really wanted to like this one. On paper it's perfect. Director/writer Paul Thomas Anderson, cast headed by Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. What could go wrong? The script. If a movie doesn't start with a good script, it can't turn out well. And this doesn't. There is no crest to this story. And there is no denouement. It lays flat for over two hours. The actors give great performances and the scenes are constructed well. Joaquin Phoenix has moments that are tragic. And then the movie just continues to plod along. I am fine with a film that develops slowly. I'm not fine with a film that never develops, and this one doesn't. Is it about an alcoholic? No. Is it about a cult leader? No. It's random moments, between an alcoholic and a cult leader, strung together, with no direction, and no point. You could extract any scene from this film, and on it's own it would stand up well. Pieced together, however, they don't add up to a story.
A story has to be about something. It has to start somewhere and it has to go somewhere. This story starts, and then goes nowhere. It is fine if the resolution of a story is simply it's endlessness. This film, however, never establishes where it's going. And, therefore, can't simply, go on forever. It never went anywhere to begin with. The actors are left to spluge all over the audience for no discernible reason. I'm over Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and have been for a while. In this role, as a sort of L. Ron Hubbard figure, he overacts to the point of caricature. For my money, the best Seymour Hoffman is "Boogie Nights", "Happiness", or "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Joaquin Phoenix is probably the most talented American actor working today, but his physically contorted, repetitive, mentally tortured, alcoholic, Freddie Quell, was never given the opportunity to become real or sympathetic, or even vile. He just, like the rest of the movie, went on. This actor, Joaquin Phoenix, has the chops to do anything. Check him out in "Reservation Road", "Gladiator", "Walk The Line", and his BEST, "Two Lovers". In "Two Lovers" Phoenix draws the portrait of an emotionally crippled man whose life crumbles beyond all hope (in his eyes), but through an accident of fate finds a path through which to go on living. He is riveting. There isn't anything he can't do given the opportunity. But he doesn't get the opportunity here.
Clearly this film was trying to comment on cultism. We know too much, however (Jonestown, Waco, Warren Jeffs), about cults to accept this fraction of a story. Clearly the main character was an alcoholic. Yet the film never explored his turmoil, or addiction, the way even a dumb show like "Celebrity Rehab" would. We were almost brought close enough to his story to care during his first session with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but that was not developed and ultimately went nowhere. Just like the rest of the film.
There are some shocking scenes in this film. But there is no story that justifies them. It is like watching a big screen version of "Americas Most Shocking Videos", - for over two hours. They are independently compelling, but ultimately unrelated. And they never amount to a story about anything I could wrap my arms around. For me the ultimate failure of this film is that there was no point to it. It is not an art film. It is a pointless film. And it's not that I don't get "it". There's nothing to get. Better to spend your time watching car crashes, on TV, shot from dash cams. At least you won't expect much going in.
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