I had trouble watching this movie. It takes a while to figure out what Mac Sledge (Robert Duvall) wants. He's one of those characters that don't like to say much. Trouble is, we find out little about him (and what he's feeling) from the people around him. Oh, we get dribs and drabs of information about the outer person -- the famous person he was -- but no one really seems to know him. It struck me as a classic actor-driven movie. The star is convinced he can act the hell out of the role, and everyone will get what he's thinking. But he doesn't want to betray the character by becoming talkative. And he's not as brilliantly transparent an actor as he thinks he is. So it takes the better part of the movie before we really have a sense of what he's all about. And even then we're on the outside. The movie was well regarded, but it stays a small acting piece instead of a powerful classic because no one opens the character up for us. We could have heard from the second wife, the kid, the ex-wife, the daughter. But they're all just as unselfaware as he is. Which is "the truth" -- people are really like that. But it doesn't help the audience. Film is supposed to give us insight into what's going on around us. A narrative drama is supposed to pull back the curtain on life.
This one just shows us more life.
I also had trouble because I thought I was for sure watching a European movie and Mac would surely foul up his newfound happiness, because life is like that. At least that didn't happen. The ending is small, but happy.
After seeing this one, and Capturing the Friedmans
, we had to watch an hour of When Harry Met Sally...
just to get back in a happy homey little mood....