I’m trying to think of a movie that has used first-person narration to its betterment. 1st-person voice works well in writing because authors aren’t bound by technical limitations and can place the reader in whomever’s head they desire, but with the exception of the Maniac remake and some found-footage movies to an extent, filmmaking is a 3rd-person medium of storytelling, and throwing voiceover into that formula pretty much always undermines the structure. Memento pulled it off really well. Dogville’s omniscient narration was great, and The Lobster and Doctor Zhivago both used supporting characters’ voices to strong effect. Flipped was decent. I must be reaching to be talking about Flipped in a movie review. Please Hollywood, stop using dumb voiceovers to tell us about the world, the characters, and details we can gather from visuals and dialogue.
Aside from the Blake Lively voiceover lines, which seem like they were written by an entirely different, much less competent person (“Chon ____s; Ben makes love. Chon is earth; Ben is spirit.”), there’s a lot of good dialogue and characterization that’s enhanced by really powerful acting. I don’t get why the critical consensus universally held that Taylor Kitsch and Lively were weak links in the casting; the former played his pragmatic, short-tempered Seal veteran to a T, and the latter exuded surprising depth and frailty in the part of a wealthy, emptyheaded Cali-girl slut, or so she describes herself. The part where she implores her captors to send her some dope and confides that she’s been taking drugs since the eighth grade may be the saddest, most revealing scene of the film. I guess reviewers had to come up with some concrete, surface-level reasons why they didn’t like the film, and when you can’t articulate any problems with the scripting or direction, making up bad acting and attacking that is an easy cop-out for would-be critics. Salma Hayek is a stupid race-baiting twat, but she’s a stupid race-baiting twat who can act and curse phenomenally, and Benicio Del Toro is also terrific as one of the most revolting and sadistic and irredeemable villains I’ve seen in a long while.
Twice As Expendable –
* Editor’s note: Both these reviews were written about a year ago and carefully preserved for a rainy day. The Author might have revised them but wisely opted not to, seeing as how that would defile the spirit of an issue of Not Worth The Effort.