Volume 5, Number 30
This Week's Reviews: It's All About Love.
This Week's Omissions: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider -- Cradle of Life, Seabiscuit, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Swimming Pool.
|It's All About Love
BY: DAVID PERRY
Thomas Vinterberg made the best of the Dogme films with his 1998 masterpiece The Celebration. It introduced the world to this crazy little plan from four megalomaniac Danes, and it proved that the Dogme manifesto could create a damn fine film (Lars von Trier would then prove that the manifesto could create a poor one too with The Idiots). Now, Vinterberg has been working on a series of DIY movies called D-Dag, preparing scripts with von Trier for their next production (Vinterberg will direct von Trierís screenplay for Dear Wendy) and leaving the fans of his work excited for the possibility of a new film.
That new film, though, is the pits, an absolutely ridiculous potboiler called Itís All About Love that heaps on the symbolism but turns the whole film into an utter mess, unintelligible from beginning to end. Vinterberg, hopefully, just needed something to expel all this inner novice that wasnít seen in The Celebration (however, reports on his first film, The Biggest Heroes, arenít that pleasing either).
Itís All About Love lacks most of the technical pretensions that marked the Dogme movement, turning in the handheld camera, natural lighting, and diagetic sounds for more formalist structures that include amazing Anthony Dod Mantle cinematography and a fairly strong Zbigniew Preisner score. Whatever assets may be found there, the story by Vinterberg and Dogme paterfamilias Mogens Rukov has nothing going for it. Built around a long series of odd occurrences set in 2021 New York, the whole film goes for a distanced, eerie feel that instead just feels pretentious and implausible.
The screenplay hammers home its general moral, that love is the most important part of the human existence, without which we are forced to destruction. But the ways in which it underlines this statement -- people randomly dying from lack of love, a new ice age approaching, Ugandans losing all gravitational pull to the earth -- careen closer to Monty Python sketches than symbolic drama.
The two star-crossed lovers, John (Phoenix) and Elena (Danes), are forced to make sense of this all as they rectify their own lost love. He has come to Manhattan to get their divorce papers signed, but Elena, a world-class figure skater, keeps moving away from signing the document. Too bad, if she had just done it, John might have gone home and this needless film would have stopped short of embarrassing itself and all involved.
Thriller clichťs soon come into effect, with doppelgangers and assassinations forcing them to go on the run. Itís never fully explained why or where they are running, but it is to a place where some nice images can be filmed, so I guess, in the corner of arrested originality, they found the answer was just a hoodwinked bit of stylizing.
The dozens of
subplots that run throughout the film -- including Johnís brother Marciello
(Penn) and his obsessive calls to Johnís voicemail with reports on his
never-ending flight -- are as impenetrably askew as the faux Polish accents
the actors are trying to create (because John and Marciello are such common
Polish names). For that matter, there is nothing that really makes sense
about Itís All About Love other than the fact that I wanted it to end as
soon as possible. And I had no misconception about that.
|©2003, David Perry, Cinema-Scene.com, 25 July 2003|