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Non-Review Review: Shadowlands

Shadowlands is, at its core, a very typical “weepy” romantic drama. However, it’s an exceptionally well-executed example of the genre, one that demonstrates a rather uncanny understanding about the complexities of love and loss that help it stand out from a lot of its fellow films. A superbly powerful central performance from Anthony Hopkins certainly doesn’t hurt, and Richard Attenborough’s elegant, yet unintrusive, direction allows the story to flow without ever feeling too emotionally manipulative. It’s an intelligent and well-constructed exploration of a tragic love affair, one that feels distinctly human in its approach to its subjects and themes.

Does Hopkins deliver a superb performance? You can bank on it…

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Non-Review Review: Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go is a mess of a film. Adapted from the highly-praised novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro (who also wrote the novel that inspired The Remains of the Day), the movie is never really sure what it is talking about, or how it’s talking about it, or even what the point of it all is. There are two superb performances at the middle of the movie, but there’s not nearly enough constructed around them to really make it interesting. Director Mark Romanek cannot decide whether he’s telling a conventional love story in an unconventional setting (with the clear moral that “there’s never enough time”) or if he’s exploring the issue of bio-ethics through the prism of human nature. Ultimately, the film tries to both at the same time, which becomes impossible with Romanek’s cold and efficient direction, which left me feeling quite unsatisfied.

Stumbling out of the gate...

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Non-Review Review: The Remains of the Day

It’s a sad truth that Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins are rarely handed roles that allow them to demonstrate their true abilities. The Remains of the Day is an absolutely stunning period drama from Merchant Ivory (which sounds far more impressive than any functional “combination of last names” really should). It’s a rather beautiful look at the classically romantic British character, but also an absolutely scathing attack upon it. It’s a brilliant examination of the inherent tragedy of the stereotypical British detachment, the capacity to maintain emotional distance in order to endure whatever life has to offer. Mister Stevens is the quintessential English butler, but he’s also one of the most tragic central characters I think I’ve seen in quite some time.

All that Remains...

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