10 July 2009

Review: Public Enemies

Genre: Action (Crime)

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this review: The film was - in a word - shoddy. My largest complaint against it - and complaints I have many, from costumes to score to even plot-construction - is for cinematography. Simply put: One just cannot shoot nearly an entire film with the camera practically lodged into the faces of one's actors and then expect the film to be good. In general such tight film-making, unless into the faces of actors exceptionally talented in the ways of subtle acting, just doesn't work, even for lesser durations; it becomes too oppressive, even for actors with as much prowess as Mr. Depp and Mlle. Cotillard: Any reading or expression that isn't pitch-perfect(!) becomes a magnified aberrant that swerves the tone of a film violently off course, and any absence of expression where there ought be one becomes a chasmic void in the flow of the screenplay, affecting cadence and pacing as much as it affects the viewer's interpretation. In constant usage, in long durations, such tight-filmmaking then only throws a film into a chaos of mixed signals and improperly registered emotions, a whirlwind of mistakes now almost entirely unbalanced and unmitigated by the fuller and more easily controlled register of more distant camera-perspectives and full-body acting. Such a chaos and whirlwind Public Enemies became that oftentimes to me and to others the tone so radically differed from what was intended, the effect became comical instead of tense and maudlin instead of dramatic. The talents of the leading actors and supporting actors alike were done no justice and the original flaws of the rather trite screenplay were no fateful ballast. Needless to say, despite my initial high hopes for the film, this attempt by director Michael Mann became nothing more than throw-away summer fare, perhaps in the tradition of Road to Perdition (2002), if only more confused.

Grade: C-.

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