1. Director Tom Hooper really likes the wide angle lens with extreme close-ups on people’s faces. At times, I didn’t know if I was watching “Les Miserables” or “A Clockwork Orange”
2. Russell Crowe does a fine job singing and acting. No, I’m not going to buy the 30 Odd Foot of Grunts box set, but Crowe brought it. End of story.
3. Anne Hathaway does deserve the accolades she’s getting. When someone dominates that early in the awards season, you almost want to root against them. But she’s great and if she wins the Oscar, it won’t be undeserved.
4. All of the performances are good-great, from Hugh Jackman to Sacha Baron Cohen to Helena Bonham Carter to pretty much everyone else.
5. This movie is LOOOOOOONG!!!! Not quite “A.I.” long, but close.
6. As much as I resisted, the final line “To love someone is to see the face of God” always brings on the waterworks for me.
7. As I was leaving the theater, I saw my 7-year old visibly distraught. I thought that maybe he got swept up in the emotional ending until he said, “My God, that was the longest movie EVER!!!”
Final verdict: I liked it a lot, but let’s face it, this is a film you’re either going to love or hate. Yes, it’s such a shamelessly manipulative tear-jerker, it makes Steven Spielberg look like Jean-Luc Godard. But seriously, what did you expect? Hooper does what he’s supposed to and totally delivers a shamelessly manipulative tear-jerker.
If you don’t think you’ll like this movie, there is nothing here that will convert you. If you liked or loved the play, the film is a fine adaptation and you’ll enjoy it. And on the slim chance it wins the Best Picture Oscar this year, it won’t be the end of the world. Not because it would beat out better films, but because watching people lose their collective s–t if it wins is going to be really, really funny. And shame on anyone who thinks the Oscars have credibility anyway.
As an act of contrition, I will watch another film this week about an unjustly condemned man: “Penitentiary 3,”, starring Leon Isaac Kennedy, Anthony (“Luke” of “Luke and Laura”) Geary, and The Haiti Kid, playing the Midnight Thud, the scariest 3-foot crack-smoking prison rapist in movie history.