Films I Neglected To Review: The Amber Alert Is Over--"Mandy Lane" Has Been FoundBy Peter Sobczynski
Posted 10/11/13 13:16:25
Please enjoy short reviews of "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane," "Captain Phillips" and "Romeo & Juliet"
Well, if you have seen more than your share of slasher movies over the years, you will probably figure out what is going on pretty quickly and the screenplay by Jacob Forman does little to try to mix things up in any significant way. Director Jonathan Levine (who made his feature debut here before going on to direct "The Wackness," "50/50" and "Warm Bodies") presents the material in a relatively stylish manner that gives the film an appealingly retro feel that also belies just how old it really is but his efforts only serve to transform a bloody bore into a good-looking bloody bore. The best thing about "All the Girls Love Mandy Lane" (and presumably the only thing that has kept interest in it amongst distributors alive over the years) is the presence of Heard as Mandy--it may not be the most challenging role but she is undeniably sexy and charismatic throughout and it isn't hard to understand why she went on to bigger and better things. The film may not be worth watching as a whole but she certainly is.
One big problem is that the story as a whole is not nearly as compelling as it wishes to be--we never get the sense that we are learning something in the way that we did during "Bloody Sunday" and "United 93"--and at 135 minutes, it starts to drag considerably in the latter stages even though that is theoretically when the tension should be at its highest. The other big problem, quite frankly, is Tom Hanks. Oh, his performance isn't bad (although he gets one bit of Acting towards the end that might as well have a subtitle reading "Oscar Show Clip" running underneath it) but every time that Greengrass achieves the sort of documentary-like verisimilitude that he has pulled off so beautifully in the past by casting relative unknowns in the roles, he winds up ruining it every time that America's Most Beloved Actor wanders into the frame and reminds us that this is indeed a movie. By comparison, first-time actor Barkhad Abdi is absolutely mesmerizing as the leader of the kidnappers--so much so, in fact, that I found myself thinking that the whole thing might have been more interesting if it had been told entirely from his perspective. That might have given "Captain Phillips" the shot of energy that might have made it into a truly gripping movie going experience that it should have been instead of the vaguely forgettable bore that it is.
In her first major role since her knockout screen debut in the Coen Brothers remake of "True Grit," Hailee Steinfeld is an undeniably gifted actress but does not make for a very good Juliet--her grasp of Shakespeare's words is uneven at best and she always seems to be reciting rather than speaking. That said, she is still more likable and interesting than Douglas Booth and his lifeless turn as her mismatched Romeo--he looks too old for the part, he never connects with her on any convincing level (possibly because it looks as though she could break him in half without breaking a sweat) and while I don't want to suggest that he is some kind of pretty boy, I will note that all through the film, I kept having the nagging feeling that if the two of them had survived and lived a long and happy life together, this Romeo would have clocked a lot more time in front of the bathroom mirror every morning than his Juliet. As Friar Laurence, Paul Giamatti is a blast throughout and whenever he is on the screen, "Romeo & Juliet" comes momentarily to life. Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between and the rest of the time, the film is so draggy and lifeless that it feels like it also paid a fateful visit to the local apothecary.
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