SCREENED AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL
i’m getting a bit tired of the ensemble dramas. i’m not sure if this trend (if there is indeed one) is for a social reason or merely because of the success of films like crash or love actually; nor do i care. i don’t have anything against them, per se (short cuts and magnolia are great), but it seems like they are becoming the next big thing and for no great reason. it doesn’t elevate your story to throw a bunch of supposedly good actors into the same room. this one features the talents of marcia gay harden, linda cardellini, donald sutherland, forest whitaker, etc.
the plot is less an intertwining of storylines and more a paralleling. each of the storylines have a set of common themes, chief among them: guns and family. this recalls a rage against the machine lyric from bulls on parade (republicans): “rally round the family with a pocket full of shells,” but i digress. each character is in some way affected by guns – whether it is the abuse of guns or a perceived power that they gain from having command of one. this equity may have been the film’s strongest element. avelino (who was in attendance) did a good job of not making an easy anti-gun film.
sadly, the film lacked in some more fundamental ways – characterization, dialogue and some story elements. characterization was mostly thin, a drawback of the ensemble film. i think that many directors have difficulty with creating living, full characters and when you thin out a character’s screen time you amplify this deficiency. some of the writing was also weak. dialogue was occasionally unrealistic or affected and there were too many cliché story elements. his columbine recreation capitalized more on the effect of the actual event than it did on any created drama or emotion. some of the cardellini storyline, too, was something more appropriate for an after school special than a moving treatise on gun use.
all that said, the film was (with a couple notable exceptions) fairly well acted and did manage to create some emotionally resonate scenes. above all, the film served as an adequate catalyst for thought on this issue, so, while it wasn’t all that well executed, it wasn’t a waste either.Watched in theater Watched on TV