Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
USA, 2004. Hart-Sharp Entertainment, John Wells Productions, Killer Films, Plymouth Projects, True Film Fund, Window Pane Pictures. Screenplay by Michael Cunningham, based on his novel. Cinematography by Enrique Chediak. Produced by John Hart, Tom Hulce, Pamela Koffler, Katie Roumel, Jeffrey Sharp, Christine Vachon, John Wells. Music by Duncan Sheik. Production Design by Michael Shaw. Costume Design by Beth Pasternak. Film Editing by Andrew Marcus, Lee Percy.
Jonathan and Bobby, two teenage boys in the mid-seventies, become best friends and soulmates, constantly flirting with being lovers but never fully going all the way with it. In adulthood, they live together in a New York City apartment with fun and quirky Clare (Robin Wright) who falls in love with Bobby (Colin Farrell) and forms a triangle with Jonathan (Dallas Roberts). When Clare reveals that she is pregnant, the three move to a big house in the country and set up their own little world where their love for each other forms a tight, almost constrictive hold on them. Sissy Spacek is wonderful as Jonathan’s mother, who also becomes a surrogate mom for Bobby after he loses his own family and gives the boys nothing but genuine love and support.
Adapted by Michael (The Hours) Cunningham from his own novel, the film brings faithfully to the screen his emotionally rich characters and honestly portrays their complex relationship, one which defies conventional notions of family. On the downside, no matter how good a job the actors are doing (and they are doing a really great job, who knew the Princess Bride could be quirky), first-time director Michael Mayer never seems quite sure what to do with them. No matter how loving these characters are with one another, one can always feel the director keeping them at a safe distance from us, and always rushing through the story as if he doesn’t want to linger. Why does the movie have to zip by at a brief 95 minutes? Surely I would have been willing to sit longer and watch a more resolved story, particularly since the end of the film rushes through the novel’s conclusion far too quickly and feels unsatisfying. Still, depending on your mood you might feel forgiving of its flaws for all the things that are good about it, particularly how moving it is. And No, you don’t see Colin Farrell’s wang, and until its therapeutic powers are medically proven, No, it doesn’t make a difference to the film.