Starring: Sam Claflin, Rachel Weisz, Holliday Grainger, Iain Glen
Directed By: Roger Michell
Plot: Peter (Claflin) gets a disturbing letter written by his cousin that suggests his wife (Weisz) might be trying to murder him. He travels to try and save his cousin, but is too late. But did she kill him? She seems so nice… and kind… and oh shit he’s sleeping with her now. FUCK. Wow. This movie took a turn for the stupid real fast.
What Works: I like Sam Claflin as an actor, and i like that he continues to be pushed with serious roles that showcase he’s more than just a Hunger Games actor. I don’t think this role does quite as much as Me Before You did for him. He’s not very charming here. And because his character’s lapse in judgment is basically the core conflict of the film, he’s not a very likeable person. If you think your cousin’s wife might have killed him, you don’t allow yourself to be seduced by her. I thought Rachel Weisz did a good job playing the role, though she never played seductive or sexy. Which was odd, because Peter is so entranced by her. I as an audience member never really was entranced, but I thought Rachel did a good job. In supporting roles, both Iain Glen and Holliday Grainger were good. The acting here is good. Not great. Good. It’s basically the only good thing about this film (other than technical things like costume, art, and production design, all of which are fabulous).
What Does Work: The protagonist is an idiot. The film is largely pointless, devoid of a satisfying ending. IF you want answers, you won’t get them. It’s all a gigantic bullshit ruse, as we’re supposed to be left wondering at the end. What is evil? Who is bad? What is life? Why am I here? Why did I see this film? I read a positive review that said this film just requires patience, and that’s bullshit. That’s like saying that period films are allowed to be slow, because that’s how it’s always been. Fuck that. Pacing is not an exclusive concept that period films get to ignore. Having scenes go on forever with no point, or having dull characters who make dumb choices… these are all structural things that would make a film more interesting. This film requires more than just patience, it requires a lobotomy.
Final Word: Yeah, I hated this film. I know it’s a book, and that this follows the plot of the book, but I think I’d hate the book too. Maybe you liked the book. For me, I just thought the whole thing was dumb. There’s never a really good reason for Peter to love Rachel. She’s not even really TRYING all that hard. I never felt like she was attempting to seduce him, yet he was falling for her anyway. Falling for the girl he thinks killed his cousin? And she doesn’t even have to try? Really? And then the ending… just… wow. It’s like I just wasted my time. This was not a film where I was looking for an ambiguous ending. I promise you I’m not hating this film because it’s a period piece. It’s using that as a cop out to not have well written characters, or a well paced and written story that makes sense. Don’t hide behind your genre. It’s insulting to the many period films that adhere to the structures of the genre, while managing to engage the audience.
Final Grade: D
I know I’m in the minority. This film has a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, which just baffles me. I refuse to jump on a train just because other people are on it.