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Une exécution ordinaire (2010)
**Spoiler** Incredibly stressful film but an intriguing study of a dictator
First of all, if you have any known illness or injury in your body, do not watch this film. The stress and terror imposed on the people in this story could aggravate your existing health issues just by watching them.
This is to say the film did a very fine job of depicting dictatorship, its terror, and the psychology of the sadism of a tyrant.
The terror and insecurity are so palpable and infectious that you would start looking over your shoulders despite in the comfort of your living room. There is no place where people can feel fully at ease or at home. A vicious attack on your life, your family, your professional achievement, or anything you thought you have achieved or loved or rightfully owned could come from any direction at any time for an absolutely unfathomable reason.
The characters do not do anything stupid in this film. It is not like one of those horror films where all the characters do stupid things to invite a horror scene. And this fact makes this film one of the scariest films you would ever watch in your life time. Every character in this film treads timidly and very carefully, but no amount of caution can protect them from harm. And the tyrant who imposes it is not at ease at all because of it. No place is safe. No one is at peace.
I heard from friends that some such details as uniforms and epaulets were historically incorrect in the film, and that the main character was fictitious, so in that sense, this is not a historical drama. It is a work of fiction using a certain period of history as a model. The portrayal of a dictator is the forte of the film and it achieves what it sets out to achieve.
But mind you... do not watch it if you are nursing an illness or injury. It will aggravate it. Seriously.
A few words that resonate in your heart
In this film, there is no over-talking. People are rather on the quiet and shy side, limiting their conversation to functional exchange of minimal information. The story is quite simple. Fine piece of acting everywhere, that is never over-acting.
Then a few words that mean a lifetime or a universe or an entire history of theology are dropped. You are made to reflect on those few words that resonate in your heart.
Some words spoken in the film will jerk your tears all out, all of a sudden, and you will probably wonder why you were so affected. It is a powerful film. It has mastered the art of restraint, so that it is you the audience who experience the emotions.
Although the storyline is rather simple, given that the story existed only to provide a reference point to the few crucial words, it does not really matter.
It may not be recommendable for everyone, but if you are looking for a different movie experience than that with ordinary, often verbose movies, this is the one to check out.
The Piano (1993)
One of the greatest growing up movie for intelligent women. **a form of spoiler**
If you are not an intelligent woman growing up to a next level, it may turn out to be a bit difficult to relate to this movie.
There have been enough number of growing-up movies for menfolks in which the main character (male) does stupid, cruel, selfish, or otherwise incomprehensible things to others around him, has some life-changing experience, and in the end transcends to another level of being. There is a sacrifice, normally a huge sacrifice, to make. There is a result that would make the sacrifice look and feel justifiable.
This movie is the female version. In the beginning, the main character sits on a high and lonely place above everyone else (except her daughter, who is basically her mirror image), because like any intelligent child, she finds the world around her so pathetic and stupid that she can't care less.
As the world gets increasingly unbearable, especially being a mail-order bride to a mundane, mildly educated farmer husband, the fundamental question is : Is there anyplace on the face of the earth where she can be herself? Can she preserve her self, whatever that is? What consequences are there for trying to preserve herself? What does it mean to be herself, in the first place? Or will she get broken under the weight of the world? This movie treats these existential questions one by one very carefully and the director's answer to these questions is given at the end in a remarkably moving, well-crafted, or shall I say, anthropologically convincing, way.
A sacrifice, a huge sacrifice, is made, and it feels justifiable.
That's how a woman grows up. It's an initiation ceremony. She loses something, she gets something, and most importantly, she discovers and retains the most important part of what she is.
It may be hard for some men to relate to this story. But it's been hard for some of us women to relate to growing-up stories involving, among other things, boxing, baseball, basketball, football, sport car or the theft thereof, and gun crimes.
It's only fair we have a growing-up story tailored to our taste.
The Human Stain (2003)
It's a drama, not thriller.
I rented a video and the video jacket says it's a thriller.
This IMDb page also says it's a drama/romance/thriller.
I do not know about other people, but I did not get thrilled. Had I known that this movie was NOT a thriller, I would have paid attention to different details of the first one hour, and I would have appreciated it more. I think this is a tragic mistake that the description on the video jacket makes you think that you are going to watch one kind of a movie, then in the middle of it, you realize that you are watching another kind of a movie. By then, the first half of the story has been told without the right attention to the right parts of it.
So people, it's a drama. If you want a thriller, get something else. If you are in a mood to listen to someone's story with good piece of acting, go for it. It's a pretty good, intense, piece of drama, and the story is worth telling, and is told well.
Everything you want in a period romance plus more.
I saw it four years ago, and loved it so much that saw it a few more times over several days. The actors are all very good. I think the film delivers everything that is required of a period drama/romance, including the breathtaking visual, and on top of that, the situation that the characters have to deal with is every bit contemporary, so you don't have to stretch yourself to feel for them. The psychology of each character is very natural and convincing, including the little girl's. Because it is convincing, at the end of the story, you share the emotions of the characters 100%, which is the point of watching an intensely emotional drama like this. Unplug the phone and turn off the mobile and make sure there is no interruption while you watch this, because the tension should not be broken. You will be deliciously rewarded.