A playwright(Ryder) who begins to mentally unravel before premiere night. She is plagued by dreams and visions of being watched, but cannot decide if she is at the center of a manipulative plot or simply losing her grip on reality.Written by
James Franco filmed all of his scenes in 3 days. See more »
I'm not sure I know how it began. But in the midst of a life that I now barely remember, in the midst of those now-forgotten New York days and nights, something happened. I believe it's all true. But it started with a dream.
See more »
Wow, such mixed reviews on this movie. Either all thumbs up or bomb? No, but it is weirdly both terrific and horrible at once. Here's my explanation why.
This is a re-shaped reality movie in the same big (and growing) genre as "Memento" and "Pulp Fiction." As the movie progresses you are made to figure out what's going on in the most basic sense, separating reality from hallucination from moviemaker's trickery. This is a gripping game at its best that draws you into the dilemma from the character's standpoint, and that also messes with the viewer's basic ability to create sense of it for it's own sake.
But what these movies require is a combination of characters you care about and a logic that is purely cemented by the end. The two earlier examples are brilliant at it. Not so "The Letter."
This movie has the bones of an excellent, lower-budget variation on a reality bending plot, but it fails to make the characters significant (or sympathetic in any way) and it never makes the illogic within the movie reasonable.
This might give something away, but near the end a big sweeping explanation is frankly provided by a doctor, and I told myself I've been wasting an hour making sense of what is really a series of fairly jumbled impressions. They don't quite make sense, I think, though you might be able to chart out the various mixed up sections on a piece of paper if you watched it a couple more times. Maybe.
But no one would have the stamina. It's a movie with an exterior of brilliance but it's so stripped down in its other components it's actually, oddly, boring. For one thing, most of the action happens on a theater stage, which allows a kind of reality within a reality (and this ain't new, as lovers of Shakespeare know). Quickly we see that the characters are getting mixed up with the actors—that is, from the point of view of the writer/director of the play in the film, played by Winona Ryder, the expressions and frustrations in the script of the play echo the reality of the real people. When scenes shift (often suddenly) to an apartment or other outside space, the same kinds of personae are at work. The people are the characters.
But they have almost nothing to do, no real baggage to explore, no narrative elements that matter. So there is an implied infidelity (who knows?) and a bit of concern about that, and maybe an infidelity that grows as the film is being assembled, perhaps (who knows?). But so what?
The final insult to all this is that film's low budget feel and its unwillingness to accept that—it tries to look bigger than it is. It's often filmed in a stale way, and then pumped up with tonal effects or with startling (or confusing) edits. You wish it would add up to something, but it doesn't.
Other reviewers have said that it all makes sense by the end. I think not. I think it's explained away at the end, but that's different. And either way it doesn't amount to a hill of beans.
17 of 19 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this