29 April 2016.
You’ve probably never heard of Dalton Trumbo. Frankly, neither had I. But that’s because for many years he was one of Hollywood’s hidden gems of a screenwriter. Because of his political beliefs – being a Communist – he was blacklisted from writing for the major studios, and in fact incarcerated for some time, in the land of the free…
This is his story, polished off from the dusty archives of Tinseltown, given an outstanding actor – Bryan Cranston (made famous from TV’s “Breaking Bad” and nominated for an Oscar for this portrayal) – to bring him back to life from the late 1940s.
Trumbo was a family man, a hugely talented screenwriter, but above all a man of steadfast principles, who stuck to his beliefs against tremendous pressures from the U.S. Congress, the Hollywood studios, and friends and foe, alike. In fact he won an Oscar for the script of the enchanting “Roman Holiday” under a pseudonym.
It was only when a courageous Kirk Douglas, a top star of the time, insisted Trumbo put his real name down as the screenwriter for “Spartacus”, that he came out from the shadows. This is a tale of back-stabbing Hollywood, government-gone-wrong and a talent that wouldn’t bend.
Some of the scenes and characters might be slightly clichéd, but they well fit the times and the melodramatic films of the 1950s, and do justice to this dedicated, crafty lion of a man.
Here’s another true story, based on the incredible trek of Robyn Davidson (played by a fine Mia Wasikowska), a loner of a woman who in 1977 walked the planes and deserts of an austere Australia, from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, a merciless journey of some 2,700 kilometres. With just her beloved dog and four camels, it was a trip that she felt compelled to accomplish, and especially all on her own.
Director John Curran has managed to make this long trek with little dialogue into an almost breathtaking thriller. Davidson’s mishaps, encounters with both suspicious and helpful aborigines, and the loyal National Geographic photographer who followed her path are all just accessories in her fierce determination to reach her goal. This tale is much more engrossing than “Wild”, last year’s similar, but duller film about another lone female trekker, starring Reese Witherspoon. Curran has created here an aesthetic, zen-like homage to Davidson’s astonishing odyssey and the immensity of Australia.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.