Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Every Thing Will Be Fine (2015)

After two Oscar nominated documentaries (PINA and SALT OF THE EARTH) Wim Wenders returns to narrative filmmaking with a heavy drama that was shot in 3D.

I know you're asking yourself why anyone would shoot a straight and very heavy drama in 3D and were it any other filmmaker other than Wenders you would have a right to question it. However Wenders is a director who understands the medium and really understands what you can do with it. If anyone was going to shoot a drama in 3D and make it work it would be Wenders.

The problem is that the in making sure to use 3D for proper effect, he saddled himself with a really weak script.

The film follows James Franco, giving a real performance, who is a frustrated writer and who is emotionally distant. While heading home to his girlfriend a sled shoots out in front of him. Luck would have it that he didn't hit the child, however when he takes the boy home the terrible truth is revealed, the boys brother was with him and Franco killed him. What transpires over the rest of the film is everyone's search for answers and forgiveness- Franco for hitting the boy he didn't see, the boys mother (Charlotte Gainsbourg) for not somehow stopping it,and even the surviving brother for simply surviving. Its a quest that takes 12 years.

Bjørn Olaf Johannessen's script is not big on answers. Life happens and we have to deal with it and that's commendable, its nice that he trusts his audience to be willing to work with him. But at the same time the film is really missing things like characters and meaningful human interaction. People stare a great deal and say oblique things. Watching the film on VOD I twice backed the film up because I thought I had missed something. I hadn't, simply where something should have been said there was just silence.

The lack of an engaging script is a shame because Wenders has assembled one hell of a cast. Franco, Gainsbourg, Rachel McAdams, Marie-Josée Croze and the rest of the cast are spot on and they nail the icy emotion of being broken perfectly. In the case of Franco its a revelation, more so coming on the heels of four or five films where he shamelessly over acted. Here his closed up nature is almost physical.

Its sad the script is so dead because Wenders and his cinematographer, Benoît Debie. have done what many people would have thought impossible, made a 3D film where the 3D helps the story. Debie and Wenders have fashioned a film where we are very much in the physical space of the characters. They give us real places inhabited by real people. More impressively the visuals create the mood. Any feelings we have are created by the spectacular imagery and the camera's motion through space. Ideally this should have come from the characters but here it is almost entirely by shot choice and image composition.

While this undoubtedly a Wenders misfire, it is an interesting one. If you have any interest in seeing a film that is visually impressive but don't mind that its dramatically frozen give it a shot. All others can take a pass.

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