14 August 2020.
THE ROADS NOT TAKEN **1/2
Sally Potter is quite a director. She started off years ago with short and experimental films but really came into her own in 1992 with the ground-breaking “Orlando”, based on Virginia Woolf’s novel of the same name, about a character who changes sex throughout centuries of history.
Potter is versatile and courageous in her choice of themes in such films as “The Tango Lesson”, “Yes”, or her last brilliant work, “The Party”, and they are mainly about relationships and their sensual outcomes. With her strong, passionate style and mesmerizing tales, one awaits her films with anticipation.
Unfortunately this one doesn’t satisfy as the others have done despite the fine acting of Javier Bardem as a writer slipping into depression or early dementia, and the ever-wonderful Elle Fanning as his deeply caring daughter who doesn’t want to admit that it may be a hopeless case. The film covers one frustrating day as she guides him to various errands in New York, trying desperately to get him out of his shell. As they struggle on, his mind meanders off into the lives he could have pursued, including a first love played by Salma Hayek, a writing trip in Greece, and his ex-wife played by Laura Linney.
The problem is the incessant weight of depression that permeates the whole film, with little relief. It is hard going and the dark mood may stem from Potter’s too close relationship to the script as her own brother died of early dementia.
Oh no! A meteor is crashing down on earth! A couple with a diabetic boy are randomly chosen to be saved in a special underground shelter somewhere in Greenland. But to get to it is the crux of this nerve-wracking tale. And the scriptwriters haven’t wasted any obvious catastrophic twists and turns to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Their troubles keep coming at them more frequently than the meteor’s flashes…it gets silly and tiresome.
But you know it’s going to be this sort of action and unbelievable stunts when Gerald Butler is the star of the film. So it’s your choice, folks…
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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.