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Archive for October 14th, 2009

Following my list of most promising young actresses Caz from Lets Go To The Movies recommended I check out Across the Universe that stars one of my selectios, Evan Rachel Wood. Now there are two things that Caz should know about me:  The first she should know from things I have said in my blog and comments I have made on her blog: I don’t particularly like musicals. I find the way people break into song mid scene contrived and annoying, I also find the music in musicals to be cheesy crap at best. The second thing she doesn’t know as I have never mentioned it in my blog: I love music; I own several hundred records and see lots of live bands however I don’t particularly like The Beatles! I don’t hate them with a venomous passion, I reserve those feelings for ABBA, I just don’t hold them in great esteem and put the on a pedestal the way many people do. Even so I thought I would give the film a go and put it on my DVD rental list. To my great surprise it arrived within a week of requesting it. Someone at “Love Film” must be as keen for me to see this film as Caz was.

across the univers

So the big question was it any good? Well, it is often an incoherent mess and the “All you need is love” ending is pure cheese but for some inexplicable reason it gets away with these faults, possibly because the film has real heart. For those who don’t know the basic plot  involves Jude (Jim Sturgess) a Liverpool shipbuilder who travels to America looking for his GI farter. He ends up befriending student Max (Joe Anderson). Together they travel to New York and lodge with an aspiring singer, Sadie (Dana Fuchs) who appears to be modelled on Janis Joplin (right down to the psychedelic Porsche seen outside the record studio at the end of the film). They are joined by Max’s sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), together they get swept up in the bohemian lifestyle and later the peace movement.

Julie Taymor UntitledJim SturgessEvan Rachel Wood

The success of the film rests with strong performances on the young cast both singing and acting. Fitting the Beatles songs into the story sometimes feels contrived but other times is compliantly effortless. One such occasion when it is effortless is the use of My Guitar Gently Weeps portraying the heartbreak of two of the main characters. The way an instrumental version of A Day In The Life is slipped in is less subtle but is approaching geniuses in its execution. The other great triumph is the story, a simple and old fashioned story of boy meats girls falls in love, loses her, then fights to get her back, has been staple of cinema and literature for as long as anyone can remember. On set subject of the story, how far wrong could you go with a screenplay by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, the duo behind the greatest sitcom in the history of television!

As you would expect the film is filled with Beatles references from the names of the characters to the design for the record company or Jude & Lucy emulating John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous Rolling Stone magazine cover. Also look out for cameos by Joe Cocker, Bono, Salma Hayek and Eddie Izzard. The film didn’t perform that well at the box office losing money on its initial release, this wasn’t helped by the cost of acquiring the music rights. It has been reported they cost nearly quarter of the $45 million budget.

So the big question; did I enjoy the film? Although often flawed, yes I actually found the film charming and ultimately enjoyable.

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