As with before, In-Flight Film reviews come with the caveat of being watched in a cylindrical tube 33,000 feet in the air on the back of the seat of the annoying twat in front who seems to have a constant twitch and likes to recline. A lot.
I’m obviously reaching a stage in my life where I’m becoming more sensitive to the age gap between romantic pairs in films. I’m not talking about the nausea-inducing gap of Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment, which is the extreme of the standard Hollywood practice of putting young women with their ageing stars. In Next, Nicolas Cage, 43, and Jessica Biel, 25, have sex and develop a deep romantic bond (which is important to the plot – Cage’s character can see two minutes into the future, except where it concerns Biel’s character, the vision of his meeting with her coming well in advance of this limit, thus being a sign of true love. Or something.) Now, while I have no doubt that movie star Nic Cage can get women 20 years younger than him to sleep with him, I find it off-putting when watching a film about fictional characters who aren’t film stars. All I could think about was the age gap and the silly hair that Cage has in the film in an effort to make him look young enough so that it isn’t creepy when he beds Biel.
The film is not too bad – there are some nice moments with Cage using his future-viewing abilities, such as the escape from a casino near the start, and the plot (about some nasty terrorists planning to explode a stolen nuclear bomb [are there any other kind?] in America) moves along quite smoothly. Cage, Biel and Julianne Moore don’t embarrass themselves, and director Lee Tamahori handles things well. It is nothing dazzling but it’s not quite as bad as you might have heard (especially for something based on a Philip K Dick novel – he has been abused worse in the past), and I quite liked the ending. Satisfactory in-flight entertainment.
This wasn’t a first-choice (or even second-choice) film for me, but I didn’t understand the complexities of the airlines system for which films are shown on which flights in which order. But I thought I could bear to watch Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling face-off against each other (with English actresses Rosamund Pike and Fiona Shaw [Petunia Dursley!] doing American accents). And, although they were interesting to watch, this thriller – about Hopkins shooting his wife but getting away with it even though he confessed because the arresting detective was sleeping with his wife and they couldn’t find the gun – hinges on a twist which is so unbelievably obvious that I spent the rest of the movie saying to myself, ‘I really hope that the whole film doesn’t revolve around THAT plot point’. (Yes, I can speak in upper case.) Still, Hopkins plays nasty with ease and Gosling is good in the Tom Cruise role of arrogant hot-shot learning to do things properly, so it could have been worse. If only it hadn’t been so predictable …
In contrast to English actresses doing American accents, we have an American doing English. Even though this is a right of passage for an upcoming American actress, Anne Hathaway does the accent well – this is necessary in a film about the very English writer Jane Austen.
Basically, this film is a ‘Shakespeare in Love’ for Jane Austen, using a typical Jane Austen plot for the movie – Jane is a proto-feminist who is fancied by the rich nephew of the local matriarch (Maggie Smith) but she wants to marry for love, like her mum (Julie Walters) to her poor reverend father (James Cromwell). Along comes Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), who rocks her world even though they don’t initially like each other. But they can’t be together.
I’m perhaps being a little flippant with the plot summary, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the film. On the contrary, it was extremely watchable and well-acted – the chemistry between Hathaway and McAvoy is palpable (particularly the scene where they dance – incredibly erotically charged), and the story (if perhaps not completely true – the filmmakers don’t intend it to be a biopic) is emotionally engaging and believable. There are moments of humour and drama and sadness – exactly what you want from a film of this sort.