Posts Tagged ‘rooney mara’

a ghost story

A musician named C, (Casey Affleck) and his wife M, (Rooney Mara) are having trouble in their married life.  C suddenly dies in a car accident, leaving M by herself.  C returns as a ghost and continues to wander around the house trying to sooth M in her time of grief.  He seem to be scratching at a wall inside the house, but what is the spirit of C doing?  Is he trying to send a message to M?  Or is there something else hidden under the paint in that wall?

This movie tries very hard to be a traditional ghost story where a spirit wanders around looking for eternal rest, but even that simple storyline is muddled by flashbacks and flash forwards, and needless subplots.  Making matters worse this movie is devoid of dialogue for large swaths of the story.  Anything is better than the awkward silences that engulf this movie, including bad narration.  But nothing can save this movie, because after nearly 90 minutes of viewing.  I simply have no idea what the writer is trying to say.  I have watched a lot of arthouse films from many countries in many different languages, but it’s very difficult to comprehend why this movie was ever made, it is simply that bad.  The critics seem to love it for reasons that escape me, but the film puzzles me, so why shouldn’t the reaction to this film

Casey Affleck seems to like roles where he doesn’t have to say much.  After making Manchester By The Sea, he plays another character off very few words.  I’ve forgotten if Casey Affleck can act at all.  This is not a good test of his acting abilities.  Rooney Mara is similarly wordless, I don’t know how to measure her performance either because the script is so bereft of emotion.  And this is essentially a two person movie, so there’s no one else to take the burden of this barren script off their shoulders.

Director David Lowery is also the writer, and matches the lack of dialogue with a glacially slow place, an hour and a half feels like three hours, and that makes this movie a difficult watch, at best,  I can’t tell if the actors give good performances, because they have precious little to say.

A Ghost Story.  Didn’t raise my spirits.




Saroo (Sunny Pawar) is a five year old boy growing up in rural India.  Saroo and his brother, Guddu (Abishek Bharate) are so poor, they collect rocks to sell for money.  One day, while tagging along with Guddu, Saroo and Guddu get separated and Saroo ends up asleep alone on a train.  By the time Saroo wakes up, he is lost in the Bengali city of Calcutta.  He tries to tell people where he lives, but is too young to remember the proper name of his village.  He wanders the streets of Calcutta for a few days, until a woman named Noor (Tannishtha  Chatterjee) takes him in and introduces Saroo to a man named Rama (Nawazuddin Saddiqui)  who promises to take him to a nice place.  It doesn’t take Saroo long to realize Noor and Rama are up to no good.  Saroo runs away, and eventually ends up in an orphanage.  He is adopted by an Australian couple, John Brierly (David Wenham) and Sue. (Nicole Kidman)

Saroo Brierly (Dev Patel) grows up comfortably in Australia, goes to a hotel management class, finds a girlfriend, Lucy (Rooney Mara) and his future seems bright.  But Saroo is haunted by the memory of his birth mother, brother, and sister.  At the same time, Saroo does not want to cause his adoptive mother any undue pain.  He is torn.  What does Saroo do?  Does he look for his birth family or does he remain in his comfortable life in Australia?

Lion has a compelling story to tell.  It is especially compelling in the first hour, where it conveys the confusion and despair of a boy who is lost in a big city very well.  The second half of the movie is not as successful because it gets bogged down in Saroo’s conflicts with his adoptive brother, and his relationship with his girlfriend, or is Lucy his wife?  The writing concerning both Lucy and Saroo’s adoptive brother was maddeningly vague.  Did the brother have emotional problems or a mental disability?  These are details most people wouldn’t care about but they bothered me.  However, the ending did have an emotional punch, and was satisfying.

The acting was good, but one person stood out, and it’s not the one who got the Oscar nomination.  Little Sunny Pawar gave a powerful performance as young Saroo, he carried the movie on his little shoulders, for as long as he was in the movie, and gave an emotionally varied performance.  He was a happy go-lucky kid one minute, and desperately searching for his brother the next.  It was a surprising range of emotions for such a little boy.   Another great performance was given by Tannistha Chatterjee, who is kind but sly, and plays the duplicitous role well.  Dev Patel is ok, not great, because he doesn’t convey the angst of his pain with as much intensity as Sunny Pawar.  Nicole Kidman has a role with surprisingly little impact, which is the writers’ fault, not Kidman’s fault.  Similarly, Rooney Mara is given little to do.

The pacing seems to match the storyline, the first hour us fast paced and exciting, the second hour slows down considerably.  The director does get good performances from most of the cast, and does make the ending worth watching, but maybe more of the Australian scenes could have been edited to get to the ending faster.

Lion Roars out of the gates, is tame later.

Movie Review: Carol (2015)

Posted: April 28, 2016 in Drama
Tags: ,


During Christmas 1951, Carol Ard (Cate Blanchett) wants to buy a present for her daughter.  She strikes up a conversation with the girl behind the counter, Therese Belivet. (Rooney Mara) Carol orders a train set for her daughter and leaves he gloves behind.  When Carol gets the train set and gloves delivered to her house, she invites Carol to her house for a visit.  Carol and husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) who wants to stay married to Carol, but senses there is more to the relationship between Carol and Therese.  Harge finally files an injunction for full custody of their daughter Rindy.  In response Carol takes Therese on a trip to Chicago.  What happens in Chicago?  Who gets custody of Rindy, is the relationship between Carol and Therese more than meets the eye?

Carol is a movie, not about love, it’s not about lesbianism in the repressive 1950’s.  Hollywood wants the viewer to think it’s about love, or a lesbian relationship, but it’s not.  It’s about irresponsible actions, forget that the two women may or may not be lovers, if a 50 year old man, took a 20 something year old girl on a road trip in the middle of a custody battle, who would get custody of the child in that situation?  The answer is simple, and it has nothing to do with the person’s sexual orientation or the era in which the story takes place.  The story is written in such a way that there can be no other conclusion.  I didn’t like the Carol character, I could not tell if she was truly in love or if she was some kind of predator, preying on a girl who was vulnerable and unsure of her feelings.  The first hour of the movie is filled with come hither stares and innuendo laden dialogue, and the viewer is thinking, “Get on with it.’ And of course there are the salacious scenes, they are in there too, in the guise of “an important topic being handled sensitively” but it’s pure titillation. The ending is non-committal, so the viewer leaves with no answers only questions.

The acting left me cold.  Cate Blanchett, who I generally like, had this far away bemused look on her face that really made me wonder what the heck was going on with this character?  Rooney Mara, who I generally don’t like, had this deer in the headlights look on her face, and gave a flat, dull reading as Therese.  Why she was ever nominated for an Oscar is beyond me. And Kyle Chandler was way over the top angry throughout the film, totally uncalled for.

The direction is suspect, at best.  The pacing is morbidly slow, the music suggests melodrama that doesn’t exists, and the director chooses strange arthouse shots of things that the viewer is forced to see, not necessarily where the eye wants to go.  The director also covers some shots with a gauzy film like sheen and shoots the whole film in a sepia tone.  There were visual flourishes that were unnecessary.

Carol:  Cate caters to the worst of Hollywood’s impulses.