The kind of film that has sadly just about disappeared - the personal,
auteur driven epic. Very rarely if ever now will a studio give a film
maker huge funds to do a risky, personal, not obviously commercial
project, one that could never be made as a `small' film.
While critics can nit pick, and a few of their points may be valid (both
Beatty and Diane Keaton were at least 10 years older then their real life characters,
making some behavior seem overly naive and juvenile instead of understandable
for their youth and inexperience), overall this is a masterful combining of the big picture
and the personal, and how the two interrelate in life. How do we deal with emotions that
are much messier than our ideals of how to live?
It explores the twin faces of revolution - the sometimes desperate need to fight to
create a new order, but the danger that the new order may be just as corrupt as the old.
Rare is the film that deeply, honestly explores both idealism and the dark realities of
political compromise. Rarer still is the film that explores both in a personal way, without
judgment, but with deep insight.
Beautifully shot by Vitorio Storraro, wonderful production design.
Keaton and Beatty are very good in the leads, and the supporting cast, down to the
smallest role, is generally magnificent. Especially amazing are Maureen Stapleton
as Emma Goldman, and Jack Nicholson in one of his very best (and most restrained)
performances as Eugene O'Neil. He may capture the true pain of trying to live through
the eyes of an artist as well as anyone I've ever seen.
The Blu-ray is particularly beautiful.
Thrilling, challenging, gorgeous, emotional and epic. They don't make 'em
like this anymore, and that's our loss.