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Because, you know, who cares.

1. It must’ve been a hell of a play. The problem with transferring plays into films (especially if it’s the playwright doing the adaptation) is rendering the events cinematic. In John Patrick Shanley’s case, this means countless close-ups and unnecessary OOH LOOK ARTY TILTED ANGLE shots and a complete lack of compositional sense. Any formal success this film has is based on the strength of its narrative, which again: Must’ve been a hell of a play.

2. Meryl Streep does her Grand Dame Streep thing, and it becomes really enjoyable when you just realize she’s playing her character in The Devil Wears Prada again. Though what seems like a groaner of a final line (that would, again, work on a stage) she manages to sell.

3. Philip Seymour Hoffman has gone from underrated to overrated in record time, starting mainly with his loud, unsubtle performance in Capote. He is most impressive at the quiet, internal moments–he and Julianne Moore are probably the two best contemporary actors at expressive the unsayable–but when he is made to shout at Streep it becomes very Actorly and stifling.

4. Amy Adams, a wondrous presence, is miscast here, and gives a one-note performance where she often seems terrified to even be in the same scene as Hoffman and Streep.

5. Viola Davis, so good for so long in nothing roles, absolutely steals this movie in the one scene she’s in. She even manages to deflate Streep and command the screen against her, giving–in less than ten minutes–a wounded, complicated portrayal of a mother who will sacrifice everything for her son’s happiness. The only truly affecting and remarkable thing about this movie.

I guess it also made me happy that I’m no longer in Catholic school.


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