Monday, October 27, 2008


This Erick Zonca movie is mesmerizing in the first half then becomes tense and when the movie is over after 138 minutes I wanted more, I wanted the movie to continue as I was totally taken by the lead character Julia played by none other than Tilda Swinton in a role than in my opinion looks very different to the many roles she had played before and yes, I concur with many viewers, she totally deserves an Oscar nomination for perhaps her most amazing performance up-to-date.

But I have to share with you all some information I found in the net. See, not many people have seen this movie and one of the reasons is that American buyers were not interested in the movie because they believed it was too long and audiences cannot sit in a theater that long! So, it is unlikely that Tilda could be considered for the Best Actress Oscar, as probably many members of the Academy have never heard about this movie and this is a big-big shame.

Tilda Swinton has the incredibly opportunity to play a role that carries the whole movie and she does it in a way that you can hardly image as she plays a chronic alcoholic that since the very first scene at a bar with Eurythmics’s Sweet Dreams Are Made of This playing loud in the background you will be hypnotized, your eyes will be wide open and you will drop your jaw just by watching the long (thanks!) opening scene. I believe that I had never seen in the big or little screen an actor or actress that so credible played an alcoholic, especially when I found out that Tilda does not drink! Then, she also says that she has watched many drunks in her life and boy! has she, as she can do it so realistic that is shocking.

For what it seems like half the movie you will follow this character from one drunken state into another until literally crashes into the infamous fence that’s the border between USA and Mexico. From this moment on the movie changes and becomes truly tense, as you can see the obvious mistakes the character does and you expect serious consequences. While in Mexico there are some visuals that could offend many viewers, but then those scenes are not only are raw reality for alcoholics but also are raw reality south of the USA border.

Directed and co written by French Erick Zonca (this is his first English spoken movie) and “inspired” by John Cassavettes’s Gloria, is not a remake of Gloria as many believe, but its Zonca homage to Cassavettes. But most important is to mention that the film has what Tilda mentions as “Rossellini style” implying that Rossellini filmed facts and Zonca did the same in this movie. These are her words for those that understand French.

L'actrice parle de son réalisateur : "C'est un "animal" extraordinaire doté d'un instinct exceptionnel. Quelqu'un a dit un jour que Rossellini filmait seulement les faits, c'est exactement ce que Zonca fait. Par ailleurs, il ne se contente pas d'assister à la scène, il veut entrer dans la tête de ses personnages, les suivre à chaque instant et faire corps avec eux (...) J'ai l'impression qu'avec ce film, j'aborde pour la première fois le type d'oeuvres que j'ai toujours rêvé de faire (...) Les personnages de Zonca résistent, ils tiennent bon. Ce film traite de la résistance de l'esprit humain. Il est sincèrement optimiste. Ce qui est rafraîchissant, c'est qu'il est aussi véritablement amoral. Il ne s'agit pas de grandes déclarations faites par un artiste européen sur l'état de l'Amérique et du Mexique. Ici, pas de grandes affirmations." Lors de la conférence de presse à Berlin, pour qualifier le regard du cinéaste, l'actrice a employé l'expression "amoralité compassionnelle".

Definitively this film does not give motives or reasons, just tells the story of one alcoholic woman that lives her life with her world fumed with alcohol vapors that totally destroy reality… until a sort of redemption brings her back to life.

American critics’ trashed the movie, European critics’ and viewers praised the movie with the few non-European viewers also highly praising the movie. Me, I loved the movie for the strange, extreme and unusual story for a female lead, the more than outstanding performance by Tilda Swinton and the most remarkable tech specs that include great cinematography, editing, framing and astonishing directing, as Zonca was able to extract from Tilda such an unforgettable performance while doing a mesmerizing and entertaining movie! Big Chapeau to Zonca!

I know I have not tell you about the story just gave you hints about it. I believe that this is a movie that you have to see without knowing much about the story so you can be surprised by the twists in it. But if the hints gave you the idea that this is a terrible story you always have the option of googling the movie for synopsis or believe me that while there are some extreme scenes, this is an incredibly good, uplifting and positive story.

Very seldom I find movies with a female lead that could be labeled as drama, thriller, crime, action, arty cinema and well, as Tilda says, “compassioned amoral” and yet, this is one that honestly I cannot relate to any of the many movies that have men as lead actors, this is quite an unique character that perhaps only a woman can bring to life so credibly.

The movie premiered at the 2008 Berlinale where was in competition for the Golden Bear.

Obviously I strongly recommend this movie, but be aware that is not an easy to watch movie for some extreme scenes that have nothing to do with alcohol consumption or violence, au contraire! Definitively is more suited for mature audiences, but I suspect that younger audiences could enjoy this movie too, as has something for every age. I really wonder if women will like it, but then I believe that most should give it a try as female lead roles like this one are seldom seen.

I know this post is too long, but this is a truly unforgettable performance by Tilda Swinton and a remarkable movie.

Big Enjoy!!!

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