Thursday, July 29, 2010

#255: The Dead

Directed by: JOHN HUSTON
1987, TSPDT Rank #379

John Huston's final film is a thoughtful and slow-moving ode to his native Ireland, featuring an all-Irish cast. Its based on a James Joyce story about who remembers a long lost love upon hearing an old Irish ballad. Its also quite easy to watch if you're in the right frame of mind to deal with its slow pace. But what's interesting about it is that the first 3/4 of the movie don't actually have anything to do with the 'plot' at all. For most of the duration we look upon this Christmas Eve party, set in 1908, where members and friends of a family all enjoy each other's company, eat and drink merrily, and entertain each other with songs and poem recitations. For the most part you can tell they try to stay away from offending the others with religious or political arguments, and although occasionally a few bad feelings come up with the help of alcohol, they quickly pass and are forgotten. When one of the women hears this Irish ballad upon leaving the party, old feelings are awakened, and the true nature of love questioned. I think some people exaggerate on saying this is John Huston's greatest films, but it does have some understated and beautiful cinematography, and a generally warm, meditative feel.

(Rating: 6/10)

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