Archives for posts with tag: jim sturgess

Technically, this is a rewatch, but I read the book recently, and I wasn’t really paying too much attention on the first watch.

And…you can’t get away from it: Anne Hathaway’s British accent is awful. Sometimes it’s not there, sometimes it’s normal posh, sometimes it’s middle school drama Cockney, and sometimes it swings wildly Yorkshire (its target), usually on the word “money.” It’s not clear why this happens, as she successfully fakes British accents in both Becoming Jane and Les Misérables, but…it is intrusively dire. And in a film that has Jodie Whittaker in the cast! She’s from Yorkshire!

In the shadow of that accent, Emma Morley (Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) run into each other in vignettes on most every July 15th from 1988 to 2006. In the first, they are graduating from the University of Edinburgh, and almost have an amorous interlude. This is interesting, of course, because Emma is northern and pinko, and Dexter is posh and probably wouldn’t actually spit on Margaret Thatcher. Naturally they become best friends but not romantically involved, because Emma has a crushing lack of self-esteem and Dexter is more or less a shallow cad. We check in on them as Dexter wanders about India and Europe finding himself while Emma slaves in a miserable Mexican restaurant, as they go on holiday to the seaside together (but Rules against Romance), as Dexter becomes an increasingly unpleasant television presenter and Emma is increasingly unpleasant about it, as Dexter marries rich and lovely Sylvie (Romola Garai) and Emma dates failed comic Ian (Rafe Spall), and…well, I think you know where this is going.

It’s really rather well done. Horrible clothes are worn, and dreadful hairstyles abound. The 90s were a sartorial catastrophe, in case you didn’t remember, and Emma’s Doc Martens and round glasses are spot-on for the self-serious anti-nuke would-be writer she is at 22. Dexter is plausibly over-smooth and fashion-victim-y in an hilarious series of jerkier and jerkier haircuts. He becomes really unlikeable. Which is the point.

Aside from the accent, it’s well-acted: Rafe Spall’s Ian is infuriatingly but touchingly useless; Romola Garai’s Sylvie is icily beautiful and deeply humorless. Patricia Clarkson is of course lovely and natural as Dexter’s mother; Tom Mison is disappointingly scummy for fans of “Sleepy Hollow.”

The conceit is slightly cheesy, and the book certainly introduces more shades of grey, but this is an above-competent adaptation, and I don’t understand why people hate Anne Hathaway so much. Sure, the accent is bad, but I’ve heard worse, and she’s otherwise charming.

Director: Lone Scherfig
Rating: PG-13
Length: 107 minutes
Score: 3/5

Advertisements

This movie was, as far as I know, universally reviled and then forgotten, and I’m not sure why. People loved the book, I think, and considered the adaptation unworthy. Which… the book was not all that, and the movie was not so bad.

If you are unfamiliar with Cloud Atlas the book, it is a somewhat overdone pastiche of genres that purports to show that everything is connected. Meanwhile visionaries are punished and we are fast heading to our own destruction. It is vaguely fugal, and its main components are: the journal of an American notary in the antipodes in the 1840s, the letters of a young English composer in Belgium in the 1930s, a narrative in the present tense (tooth gnashing heard) about a journalist in not-quite-San-Francisco in the 1970s, the memoirs of an English publisher approximately now, the confession (?) of a Korean service-industry clone in the post-environmental-catastrophe future, and the fireside tale of a Hawai’ian bloke in the post-nuclear-apocalypse future. That’s a lot, and you might say it would be difficult to make into a film. I think that’s true, but I think the film did about as well as could be expected.

The movie doesn’t adhere to the fugal sequence of the book, it merely bounces around among the narratives, and I think that’s a good choice. Moreover, it reuses the actors across storylines, which serves to bring them together, and also to avoid an insane proliferation of paychecks. This does end with Ben Whishaw in unsettlingly good drag and Jim Sturgess and James D’Arcy in somewhat uncomfortable vaguely Asian make-up, but as a storytelling decision it’s effective.

Unfortunately, the film is unable to make you care about all the stories. Jim Broadbent as the English publisher trying to escape from an old folks home is amusing, but forgettable. Tom Hanks as an illiterate futuristic goatherd eventually flirting with Halle Berry is both boring and embarrassing. Mr. D’Arcy, underneath all that make-up, is almost convincingly distraught by the tale of revolution told by Doona Bae’s clone. Ms. Berry is charming and more or less engaging in her 70s haircut and journalistic integrity. But by far the best narrative is that of Mr. Whishaw’s young composer writing to his lover, a touchingly naïve and unusually blond Mr. D’Arcy. Theirs is the only outcome I cared about–I knew what it was, having read the book, but I still cared.

So the movie is no more pretentious than the book, if certainly no less. It’s visually arresting and most of the time periods are convincingly fleshed out technologically or sartorially. No one completely phones it in, and the writing echoes the novel while eschewing some of its most mannered excesses. It is, of course, somewhat fragmented, but that is deliberate and forgivable.

Stray notes:

  • I literally have no idea why Susan Sarandon was in this movie.
  • Or Hugh Grant.

Director: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Rating: R
Length: 172 minutes
Score: 3/5.