3 of 5 Stars
Very slow but keeps you watching
This is a difficult movie for me to review…up front, I’ll mention that I did not read the book prior to viewing this movie; I have a feeling quite a bit of the book didn’t translate as well as they had hoped to film…maybe I’ll go back and read that, and then review that as a follow-up too.
A 3 star rating from me isn’t a bad rating; so many seem to see a rating like that and think it’s negative. No, it just means it was okay…not sure I’d go out of my way to watch it again though. Why? I suppose one of the reasons is that it was boring in many ways. It’s a very quiet movie that moves along at a slow, quiet pace, with characters that in general…I’m not fond of. The cinematography is beautiful though.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Phil Burbank, a completely detestable character in my book. He’s just mean and unnecessarily hurtful to people, as a viewer I really never figured out why he is this way. Yes, we get some insight into him late in the movie that eludes to some grief he may still carry, but it really doesn’t explain why he is such an ornery cuss to Rose, her son Peter, his parents…and generally anyone he comes across. There are a few minor clues that if you are astute will give you some insight to who this man is on the inside…but I still never liked him or trusted his actions.
Dunst on the other hand, who plays Rose Gordon, begins the movie as what I would deem a likable and sympathetic character that I, in many ways wanted to root for but then her character’s story arc takes a nose-dive; could that be because Cumberbatch’s character reminds her of her late husband, and not in a good way? If so, why would she agree to marry his brother and live on their ranch where she would be around him ALL THE TIME? Could the financial security for her and her teenage son be that strong of a lure during the depression era? Possibly, I suppose that could happen; the Burbank brothers do own a large ranch, a large house, and have the money she would need to send her son to medical school…but she sure does seem to be one anxiety ridden nervous wreck most of the time….kind of annoying really.
Then there is her son, Peter, played by Kodi Smith-McPhee; the casting directors had to have gone out of their way to find a young man this tall and slim for this role but as a viewer I definitely felt for him when Cumberbatch would pick on him and we never saw any interaction between him and his new stepfather. For me though, he was the surprise of this movie, he was the one to really watch; with him, his waifish looks do not equate to a lack of strength. Peter was truly the only interesting character for me throughout this film and he rarely spoke much. To me, Kodi Smith-McPhee is an actor to watch out for, his star is on the rise.
Peter’s new stepfather and Rose’s new husband, George Burbank is played by Jesse Plemons. I like Plemons as an actor, he is good at playing quiet, subdued, and somewhat quirky characters. The problem is, I’ve seen this frequently from him, it seems he may be getting a bit type-cast into these characters and honestly, through no fault of the actor…I found this character to be pretty spineless.
See what I mean? These characters just aren’t characters that really interested me (aside from Peter)…this made them hard to watch for me; hard to pay attention to, particularly when coupled with such a quiet movie. I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I said “this movie is weird,” to one another.
There is a twist in this movie, which I will not spoil for anyone reading this. If you are like me, you will put it together as the movie goes on and have what is going to happen figured out before it happens…but still, it’s a nice touch.
I will say this much though, the movie did interest me in the story enough to check out the book. I have no doubt much was left out that will make this far more interesting to me.
If you have seen this movie, I’d love to know what your thoughts on it are too.