Neil (Ben Affleck) is an American traveling in Europe who meets and falls in love with Marina (Olga Kurylenko), a Ukrainian divorcée who is raising her 10-year-old daughter Tatiana in Paris. The lovers travel to Mont St. Michel, the island abbey off the coast of Normandy, basking in the wonder of their newfound romance. Neil makes a commitment to Marina, inviting her to relocate to his native Oklahoma with Tatiana. He takes a job as an environmental inspector and Marina settles into her new life in America with passion and vigor. After a holding pattern, their relationship cools. Marina finds solace in the company of another exile, the Catholic priest Father Quintana (Javier Bardem), who is undergoing a crisis of faith. Work pressures and increasing doubt pull Neil further apart from Marina, who returns to France with Tatiana when her visa expires. Neil reconnects with Jane (Rachel McAdams), an old flame. They fall in love until Neil learns that Marina has fallen on hard times. ... Written by
Like other reviewers, I am not opposed to alternative ways of telling a story. Less dialog, more imagery and more music is fine. But you still have to fill in some details. This one doesn't.
Why do reviewers keep saying that the woman was a Russian expatriate in Paris? Because the actress is Ukranian? I didn't catch any dialog explaining that she was anything other than French. Why do they keep saying that the second part of the movie was in Bartlesville, Oklahoma? I never heard any mention of the state or the town. I understand that it was filmed there, but the movie didn't tell me anything about it.
What the hell was the guy doing in Paris? What is wrong with the woman? She seems a little bit retarded. She keeps twirling around in circles like she is not fully engaged in the reality of life. Is it because she is a bohemian, Parisian existentialist poet, or just immature, or what? What does the guy do for a living? He seems to take samples of pond water and weeds. Is he doing the geological survey for a building project? There are no normal conversations in this film. Much of it is whispered in French, with subtitles about the mystery of love and loneliness. After the pretentious and petulant non-French, French woman leaves the film for a bit, Rachel Adams emerges with no makeup. Then she too begins whispering about the nature of love and loss.
Javier Bardem has a compelling screen presence in most of his work and in this one he looks troubled and pensive. I would have loved to find out more about this character's life. A priest in a small town might feel very lonely.
I do understand that the Director and Writer are trying to show lonely, lost souls and make some statement about how we are all looking to connect to something... be it a city, a romance, God, or a poetic version of life. But I can't watch that for 90 minutes without going stark raving mad.
Yes, the cinematography was nice. I liked that the annoying French girl actually said that she was sick of Paris. Film makers love to portray Paris as the Garden of Eden, but it is not a coastal city. It gets gloomy and cold, and there are loads of angry ethnics on fixed incomes.
I actually think the semi-porn "Nine Songs" does a bit better job of showing the initial obsession of a love affair and the ugly decline when boredom and routine set in with immature, shallow people.
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