Saturday, June 05, 2010


Many times having expectations is not really wise as it's almost impossible than a movie made-for-TV could satisfied them, much less if is a miniseries in three installments not shown one day after another but one week after another. Still, I really appreciate and are grateful to my friends from France for allowing me to watch my first Cannes 2010 film. No, Carlos was not what I expected, as a very long biopic I find it acceptable and definitively has its moments but they are not many.

The story smartly skips his youth and the first part has Carlos in Paris starting to be active in his maybe then revolutionary quest and goes up to days before the OPEC incident. Starts slowly and not very interesting to follow, but suddenly it becomes really intense! I got so excited with the first part that got my expectations even higher.

Part two, starts with OPEC incident which was not that exciting especially after the buildup of part one. Continues with him being kicked-out of the PFLP and forming his own group. By now he's a media icon and a well-known -I should say- 'mercenary' that will work for many that opposes imperialism. Perhaps the last part of the story of this second installment was lesser known to me, so I got interested in learning how and why he ended up working for Syria.

Part three is his slow decline up to his arrest in Sudan which as a story is less interesting, but has its moments when the group goes violent in Paris trying to liberate their imprisoned colleagues.

My take away from what I saw in the story is that Carlos became a 'mercenary', but truth or not, what impresses is how he was able to do everything he did -most of which today is impossible- and who backed up him in the different decades. As a movie has top notch production values, good slow pace at times and fast action pace at the adequate moments; performances are above average for main characters and the many other actors with secondary roles. No complaining at all with the film tech specs that are well above for a film made for television.

So what exactly was missing for me? A more compelling and engaging storytelling, both visually as well as narrative. But definitively has its moments when is intense, compelling and engages you with whatever is happening.

When I finished watching the last installment my honest thought was that the two Mesrine films were a lot more compelling and engaging. Surely Mesrine does not have all the important characters Carlos has, but the style was more exciting to watch with a roller-coaster of contradictory emotions felt for the main character and everything they show. Except for the last half of the first part, Carlos was flat and didn't engage me with feeling any kind of emotions for the main character, other characters, situations or the story in general. It was like watching a impassive factual series of -real- events film.

I strongly suggest to see this film with no expectations and if you are lucky enough not to know Carlos story I imagine you will enjoy more this vision by Olivier Assayas. Right now I do not think I'll watch the shorter 2 1/2 version, but maybe I will when it comes to cable. By the way I saw the French dubbed version, which maybe it didn't help much to engage me as dubbing is always bad; consequently I strongly suggest you to watch Carlos in the original languages with subtitles in the language of your choice, perhaps this way will be a little bit more engaging.

My 2010 Cannes experience does not start well, but I hope two or three films will change my experience for the more positive.


Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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