This is the second in my series of Best Picture nominee reviews for the 87th Academy Awards, the first being Birdman, or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance. A little backstory, since this movie actually has some: this movie took 12 years to film. It actually films in semi-real time a story about a child, and his growing up. Actors signed up and worked for 12 years in short stints, including our lead little kid actor. It is a huge stunt, and something that absolutely needs to be watched. So let's dig in.
*turns on the blu ray*
*turns off the blu ray ... almost three hours later*
I do not want to disregard the gamble and the work put into this film. Filming for 12 years, making decisions on the fly, having to cast your actors at a young age and hope they continue to do well all throughout. And I won't even say that the gambles didn't pay off, with Ethan Hawke getting his big resurgence recently. But I cannot say this is a good movie. It isn't a bad movie, or even an average movie. But it is not a good movie. It fails to be about anything that mattes. It is like watching a fake documentary about uninteresting people. It is just people talking about things that happened between cuts in the lives of these fake people. There is only one sequence that kind of has anything actually happening, and that is the end of the "first act" if I can even call it that. What a novel approach to filmmaking, film a bunch of idiots doing nothing, talking about nothing ... well, not talking, more like mumbling.
I cannot understand how a film that's only achievement is that it took a super-long time to make, had no final script, and barely does anything beyond just being a movie. It doesn't strive to do anything but an exercise in filmmaking. It doesn't succeed at anything it tries to do, it merely accomplishes them. It isn't hard to be perfectly in "period" when it was shot in order over 12 years. It isn't hard to show a child grow up when he literally does that and you don't have to work for it or do any filmmaking, clever writing, or make up. This movie just wastes time, showing its theoretical exercise as some huge technical achievement, and people act like it is.
I am mad that so many people are talking about how amazing this film is, when it isn't! It is nothing. It is the lack of art. It is an exercise. Even I was bamboozled by it in this very review! I was all "this movie isn't mediocre, it is good, it really is!" and then I list all the terrible problems. All the details that prove that statement. This film will be remember as an exercise, and completely forgotten outside of that. I do not, cannot, and will not recommend this middle of the road, boring, LONG AS HELL, talk-fest that does nothing of value.