1932. The tyrannical and despotic government of President Machado has headed Cuba for seven years. The latest measure of that tyranny is the outlawing of public gatherings of more than four... See full summary »
Against a background of war breaking out in Europe and the Mexican fiesta Day of Death, we are taken through one day in the life of Geoffrey Firmin, a British consul living in alcoholic disrepair and obscurity in a small southern Mexican town in 1939. The Consul's self-destructive behaviour, perhaps a metaphor for a menaced civilization, is a source of perplexity and sadness to his nomadic, idealistic half-brother, Hugh, and his ex-wife, Yvonne, who has returned with hopes of healing Geoffrey and their broken marriage.Written by
Eric Wees <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Don't be fooled by the dark glasses in the cover of its DVD box or its poster, this John Huston film is not about a hipster's feel-good adventure and Finney is no Hercule Poirot here (although he does reunite with his co-star Bisset from MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS 1974, 9/10), the truth is, it is adapted from Malcolm Lowry's classic but "unadaptable" novel with the same title.
Set in 1939, Mexico, starts on the eve of the Day of the Dead, it focuses on a former British consul's life in one-day span, plagued by incorrigible alcoholism and blindsided by his ex-wife's return with an attempt to rekindle their new life together, he begins to realize he is a lost cause which is beyond any succor, and the finale is both stalely traumatizing and embarrassingly contrived.
But one sure thing is that Finney devotes fully to the role and evokes wondrous affections from the very beginning, he is a genuine force of self-destruction, a damaged soul would be a nuisance to others, but underneath his portly and alcohol-soaked figure, he represents one state-of-mind can virtually remind us how fragile and pathologically determined one can be, even it heads to a doom. His two co-stars, Bisset and Andrews, come on board also pretty strikingly with their different nature of temperaments, Bisset is the glamorous ex-wife who balks at her further step as we do watch her hemming in the quandary, Andrews is a pleasant matador, his side of the story should have been more explored, clearly he knows what had happened between the couple, but nobody cares to shed a light here, as the horrible coda lurks, the movie only manages to exert all its energy to an irksome case of xenophobia without giving any justice to its cause and effect.
So undeniably Houston's later career wanes harshly in quality, still, a notable mention should be addressed to the legendary composer Alex North (grabs his last Oscar nomination out of a total 15 nominations without a win except an Honorary award in 1986), whose eerie opening score of the variegated skull show does set a high bar to what this anti-climax film would actually offer, sad to say but this is another John Huston work I dare not to advocate (after THE MAN WHO COULD BE KING 1975, 5/10 and PRIZZI'S HONOR 1985, 5/10).
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