12 December 2008

Review: Were the World Mine

Genre: Musical (Fairy Tale - not a pun, though the film used it to be)

While it's evident that in my head I had a series of speculations about where this film would take the nature and potential of its intriguing, if a bit cliché-veering, subject matter (as seen here, in my post about its then due release), it's also evident by the film itself that the director did not have such a series - or, if he did, he sorely lacked the ability to effectively communicate it to his audience - for Were the World Mine languishes in a territory somewhere between contrived movie-musical (i. e., the good) and horrific niche burlesque (i. e., the bad) - and with extremes like those, there isn't really much more one can say. Director and writer, Tom Gustafson, essentially just let one of the most intriguing of the novel Shakespeare-concept movies (the most banal of which have been the neverending C-level teenage dramas) slip through his fingers with no more than a rough pat one may give to the back of an acquaintance, whose name you've clearly forgotten as one runs into him on the street; a pat that seems to say, "Wow, you're awesome - so great to see you!" but really is saying, "Wow, I know this guy? Really? Huh." - for he essentially in the entire course of his film puts no prongs into the meat of the issue of the politics of affection and only awkwardly eschews truly plot-damaging interjections and hypotheses that sporadically arise (both in the mind of the viewer and in the minds of the characters on screen [e. g., 'What if that character had looked at someone else?']) with the equivalent grace of a swerving car. The only true moments of redemption the film experiences, amidst a folly of stereotypically confined choreography, stale lighting, and just a dragging paper-clip-cohesion quality of threading and editing, are some - only some - of the musical numbers written expressly for the story, though, frequently submerged under the brack of the aforementioned, they hardly can be appreciated without immediate there-for-all dismissal based on those brackish grounds. Though they may uncannily find a rivulet into some melodic confluence (a journey of inspiration which the film feebly tries to recreate) with the poetic rhythms of Shakespeare's play, such songs, Mr. Gustafson, that ride on an open attitude about sexuality are hardly helped by stock characterizations and feeble plays to your likely demographic as those which you put forth in your work. Stay away from such panderings! And stay away from predictability for that matter, unless you actively seek to explore the greater dynamics in the story you profess (as I have suggested and as you evidently have not)! Without so staying away, your story is otherwise old, tired, and boring; and Scent of a Woman (1992) and Clueless (1995) lay you down flat. And, above all, don't think that this criticism reflects the (obvious) monetary constraints of your production, for with better actors, a more diverse wardrobe, and keener special effects, I doubt you could have done any better than you have qualitatively. Eh, I let it go. I guess, it's just disappointing for me to see fresh lemons become a lemon, instead of lemonade.

Grade: C-, fails to even look like it's trying and achieves only when in song, reiterating another's words. Stephen Holden, what did you see in this one?

P. S. Mr. Holden, I've just read your review of this film and I do think you're being far too lenient in your appraisal of it: a film with charms, yes, one to which I'll even grant you a bit of that movie-musical error-obliviating magic (for the plot-based objections raised for equally plausible and message-affecting variant realities), but full absolution for the rest of it smacks too much of that "love-in-idleness" for unbiased contemplation. How strongly did that camera-directed bower flower at the end affect you?

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