Ah, been a while since I did three films in a day. In a bid to avoid take a break from working hard, I headed over to the Cineworld in Edinburgh for one romcom, a thriller and a historical drama. I like a nice mix.
Love and Other Drugs
Plot-in-a-nutshell: Boy meets girl. Shags her. Meets another girl. Shags her. Meets another girl. Shags her. Meets another girl. Shags her, but likes her. Sells some pills along the way (legally).
LaOD is definitely more “romantic” than “comedy”. There are some genuinely funny moments in it, but it focusses far more on the story than it does on laughs. That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable. It is. Hugely so.
This is largely due to Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. And this is partly due to the amount of flesh they show. One thing that’s always annoyed me about films is the way a couple can be all over each other, then the scene cuts and they insist on keeping themselves covered with sheets. Not so in this film! That’s not to say it’s remotely pornographic – unless you’re from the Bible Belt, in which case curved table legs are fairly hard core.
The performances are fantastic, especially Hathaway who plays a character with onsetting Parkinsons Disease. The writers have managed to make this a major point (as it should be) without turning things schmaltzy.
Jamie (Gyllenhaal) grows up as the film progresses, and he portrays this with some strength. Moving from the easy-going playboy to a dedicated partner in stages as the film progresses, he matures over the course of the two hours or so.
Josh Gad is also excellent as the comedy relief, Jamie’s brother. He pops up in just the right places to give some laughs and does manage to steal some of the scenes he’s in. Basically, he’s there for the guys who are taking their partners to see this film on a date.
A great story with passionate performances from the leads.
The Next Three Days
Plot-in-a-nutshell: A woman is jailed for a crime she didn’t commit (or did she?) and her husband starts to plot a way of getting her out. Only he’s not that great at it.
This isn’t the first “damsel in distress and amateur husband/partner comes to the rescue” film by any stretch. It is, however, ever so slightly more realistically portrayed than most others. Hubby (John – played by Russell Crowe) is a school teacher. He isn’t ex-military and doesn’t have a keen interest in survivalism.
His wife, Lara (Elizabeth Banks), is jailed for murdering her boss which she denies. However, there’s a lot of doubt as to the truth of this. This simple fact does make the film a bit more interesting. Will the actually get away with John’s plan? Should they? After all, there’s every chance she did it.
Indeed, John keeps screwing up. As ever, I’ll avoid spoilers, but his methods don’t always work out too well. Of course, where’s the fun in a film where everything is easy? You’ll end up with something like Law Abiding Citizen which has been done.
Despite a 2-hour running time, The Next Three Days doesn’t overstay its welcome and maintains interest right the way through. It does use some classic cinema tricks to maintain tension which are woefully predictable, but they only detract slightly from the film.
The Way Back
Plot-in-a-nutshell: A small group escape from a Russian gulag in Siberia then travel 4000 miles – on foot – to freedom.
There’s some debate as to the truthfulness of the book on which this film is based, but there’s enough fact in there to make it a wonderfully emotional work. Starting in the work camps of frozen Sibera (all 5 million square miles of it), the group head south in search of freedom. This takes a lot longer than they expect.
The group is made up of Russians, Poles, an American… quite a mix and indicative of the fact that Communism didn’t care who it trampled as long as it got its own way.
Not all the actors are from Eastern Europe, despite paying characters from there. Ed Harris does play the lone American, but Colin Farrell puts on a pretty acceptable accent as the mad knife-wielding lowlife who forces his way into the escape party.
The majority of the film depicts the group’s journey through harsh snow, mountains, plains, lakes, and desert as they make their way south to India and freedom from the reaches of Communism.
It does seem to rush a little as the time goes by. The early stages of the trek take up the most time, and each lengthier stage takes less and less screen time as the story progresses. Still, I suppose there’s only so much you can show of people walking with the sun beating down on them, or snow blinding them.
There’s a great story here with some compelling performances. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it’s quite classic material. Far better than some of the brain-numbing crap being thrust on us these days, though.