Prisoner (Film Thoughts: The Mauritanian)

Jodie Foster winning Best Supporting Actress on The Golden Globes made me want to check out Kevin MacDonald’s ‘The Mauritianian’ right away. I mean, I probably would have eventually seen the film anyway. And I knew nothing about it going into the film. I realized then it was based on a book, a memoir by the main character of the film, Mohamedou Ould Salahi, here played by Tahar Rahim, while he was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. Foster plays Nancy Hollander, the lawyer who defended her against the US government.

The film is a good addition to the ‘United States sucks’ genre, and I found the story quite compelling. The film about it, is a mixed bag. The focus is all over the place, leaving the performances to ground and land it. Rahim is sensational, and Foster giving her icy-warm brand of acting (I personally think she should be in lead, not supporting) But I felt drawn in by most of it, and found the time spent worthwhile.

Young Women (Film Thoughts: Ending Beginnings/The Roads Not Taken)

Saw two movies back to back with young woman at the center of both and thought I should probably write about it jointly.

ebFirst up is Drake Doremus’ ‘Endings Beginnings’ starring Shalaine Woodley as a young woman who finds herself in relationship with two men – whoa re best friends. I wish there was more nuance to the story but there isn’t. She just can’t choose between the two, or refuses to. I don’t even know what the point, too, because in the film, the two men, played Jamie Dornan and Sebastian Stan look alike so I find it hard to discern the difference between the two. When she gets pregnant later on in the film, my first thought was: well. it’s fine because she is sleeping with both and either one could be the father and it will not matter. The three actors are all good, so you can kind of see where each is coming from, but in the end it’s seem like rich white girl problem. They are all good to look at so you don’t mind everything that’s going on but when you finish you know there wasn’t much substance there.

large_roads-posterSally ‘Potter’s ‘The Roads Not Taken’  has Elle Fanning as a young woman taking care of her father (played by Javier Bardem) who is a writer suffering from early dementia. But Bardem plays the character as too much like a cliche that he has lost all dinity. Poor Fanning has to lug him round through his dentist and doctor appointments, and both are medical professionals who have the worst bedside manners. there are flashes of his life – Salma Hayek plays his first wife and their son dies, and Laura Linney gets one scene as Fanning’s mother. But the film is dead on arrival, nothing can make it rise from the dead.