Then, today, I saw a dismal review of the movie in the Wall Street Journal, where actually, I NEVER read movie reviews.
...so many of its issues -- domestic politics, the Middle East, the clash of civilizations -- are debated with such steadfast self-importance. Eventually, though, they're all reduced to a snoozeful thrum by a process that works like noise-canceling headphones -- every speech, stance or position has its nullifying opposite.The fact is, the WSJ reviewer just doesn't get this movie. He sees the reporter, layed by Streep, as "a sappy parody of timorous liberalism."
And, he describes Redford's professor character and the professor's students;
"Stephen Malley, the professor played by Mr. Redford -- who also directed, with a leaden touch -- peddles only banalities in urging a bright, disaffected student to step up to the task of changing the system. Then there's the ambiguous plight of two of Malley's former students. They stepped up by joining up; now they're soldiers facing death from enemy fire in the deep snow of Afghanistan. Are they victims of Sen. Irving's hawkishness, or of liberal reluctance to prosecute an all-out war? No way to know.
Now, the WSJ is great for hard news reporting, one of the best. But when it comes to editorials, it's a joke, and clearly, reading the nasty review of this movie, I decided that if the WSJ hated it, I'd love it.
The fact is, there is a lot of talking, a lot of opinion writ in dialogue.
Then there's Tom Cruise. I think he's perfectly cast for the role of a shallow, vapid, arrogant right wing politician, who self-righteously thinks he knows it all. Perfect!!
The students who become soldiers-- they are probably the best actors in this drama. But there's no question, at the end of why they died, except, perhaps for a right wingnut who's totally drank and drowned in the koolaid.
The suprise ending for this movie will leave you departing the theater in a somber, serious, possibly angry state. The final result of the movie is powerful. Make sure you stay to watch the images that appear after the end. They give a message to you.
As a liberal or progressive, the message you'll get from the movie is very different from the WSJ review. And for all the middle of the roaders, independents and moderates who go to see a flick with three big name stars, they will not translate it like the WSJ either. They'll see it the way Redford directed it, as a powerful message against the war, against the mainstream media and against the lousy pentagon leadership.
And all will see the soldiers for the brave, betrayed souls they are.
This is a movie worth seeing. It does have a few spots where the talking goes on, without a lot of action. But it's worth it. Kudos to Redford for telling a story that delivers a powerful message.