Top critical review
Barry Lyndon, we hardly know thee
on November 24, 2003
This film is a biography in the most straightforward sense: It simply recounts the events of this historical person's extrordinary life. Kubrick's goal, one supposes, was to bring this character to life, for us to bear witness to his troubled heart. Unfortunately, by focusing his efforts on the period sets and costumes, he misses the mark, and leaves us struggling to truly connect with or understand who Redmond Barry really was or how any of his myriad life-decisions were made. I suppose all those details were lost to the filter of History, and Kubrick does not exert his license to flesh out his historical protagonist with human characteristics. Redmond Barry's life involved many dramatic changes of circumstance and character, perhaps too many for even for a 3-hour movie to pull off convincingly. Also, contrary to other reviewers, I felt that casting all-American pretty boy Ryan O'Neal as the Irish-commoner-turned-English-nobleman was a poor choice. In other words, it's not all Kubrick's fault that we can't relate to the protagonist. Beautifully filmed eye-candy, but missing the emotional hook.