Saturday, 2 June 2012


This is a film that viewers either warm to or are happy not to see a second time. This was about the sixth time I've seen it - so you know which camp I'm in! Whether or not you like this film, it is a bold project that paints a picture that contains a huge amount of detail - but on a huge canvas. At just over three hours long it might invite criticism of being too long. I think that is not the case. The story moves at a constant and quick pace and the editing is superb. There is simply no chance for boredom to set in.

The premise of the film is straightforward. Set in the anonymous suburbia of Los Angeles over a single day, the film weaves together the lives and experiences of 10 people. All of the people either have something to hide or something to fear. Some are good people, some mixed up and some not so good, some just starting out in life, others nearing life's end. It presents a series of character studies and whilst this particular set of somewhat extreme circumstances probably wouldn't all coincide in one neighbourhood on one day, the film retains sufficient realsim and the characters have sufficient depth and strength to carry it off.

This film explores a wide range of emotions and the top-drawer ensemble cast deliver a host of strong performances. Julianne Moore's character Linda leaves you breathless as she hurtles towards guilt-ridden breakdown. Tom Cruise's Frank T J Mackey delivers a character to loathe whilst John C Reilly's Jim Kurring and Melora Walters' Claudia deliver characters to love. Phillip Seymour Hoffman's nurse Phil Parma is filled with wise empathy and anchors the chaos that unfolds around him. The four dogs are a master-stroke.

Rather than trying to present a day-in-the-life of an LA suburb, this film presents a series of events that are possible and that includes the regularly updated weather reports. Towards the end the film presents precipitation of Biblical plague proportions when the sky rains massive toads - an amphibian deluge that wreaks havoc. As child prodigy Stanley observes - unlikely but possible.

If you've not seen this please invest 3:08 hours and see it. If you've seen it and liked it, it's time to see it again. This is a masterful film that shows more and more depth with each viewing. The soundtrack by Aimee Mann is also something to cherish (Oscar nominated) as well as the other songs dropped into the film - they all add extra depth to already deep film.

As you might have gathered - I like this film. I'm giving it 8.5/10

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