Thursday, February 08, 2007
Maybe their horses would have helped them?
I seem to remember hearing somewhere that All the King's Men was re-edited at the behest of studio heads- that might just be my imagination, but if it's true it would explain a hell of a lot. All the King's Men doesn't make sense, on any level. I mean, for one thing, I don't understand why all these talented actors- Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Clarkson, et al.- signed up after seeing such a verbose and unsubtle script, but on a simpler level I could barely understand what was happening in the film. For one thing, every character excepting Penn and Law is so marginalized and choppy that their storylines never make sense, and the actors just come out looking like amateurs, although I get the feeling that there was perhaps a coherent performance in them all, but it just got cut up by furious studio editors. I assume that the original novel, by Robert Penn Warren, made some kind of linear sense, that it explored its various themes with gravitas and depth, and that it didn't seem to run all its threads into some kind of enormous entangled web. (I also take it that the first film made of the novel, in 1949, did the same, since it's so well regarded.) But this film doesn't make sense at all. I kept drifting off into reveries, remembering all the other films that these actors had been so good in, before realizing that, hey, I wasn't concentrating on the film- but then it just happened again. It doesn't help that Stephen Zallian's writing is so languid, so simultaneously grand and dull, and that is direction is so horrifically unsubtle- yes, Stephen, we heard the chandelier tinkle, we don't need to see it too- that you'd be surprised if the spider under your seat wasn't rolling his eyes. All the King's Men, thanks to some solid period recreation work, isn't really any worse than a film like Final Destination 3, yet, with a cast this good and a story this respected, it comes out looking a lot worse, because you weren't expecting that schlocky horror to be any good, but this... oh, dear. Grade: D+