Todd Haynes’ latest, starring Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman, is super good. I reviewed for Ebert.
hell yeah!!! I ‘m really glad to read you on this. I found it very disconcerting and you capture a lot of how that comes about, especially that sense of dislocation. Like, it’s so placed, everyone knows them, the crimes happened down the road; they’re not going anywhere. Melton’s dad has an ashtray full of cigarette butts (I think I remember that right). But it’s so gauzy, the light is so superficial, the tours, as you say, are background noise. If Portman and Moore have anything in common as performers it is brittleness and you feel that in everything; the surface is ready to be torn like a cocoon. Melton is so grounding in all that; I love your paragraph on him. His physicality is phenomenal. The child is always in him. That scene on the roof that you call out is so upsetting, I’m still worried about him — and their children! And in the bedroom where he tries to connect with Moore and it does not, cannot penetrate her skin, and you realise it’s not that she’s guilty and avoidant and you have to figure out how deep that avoidance sits, it’s that she quite simply does not have the capacity of self-reflection. Moore is so good. The whole way through I kept feeling like the film was her, a slight, wispy, tissue paper film, not solid; unlike with, say, Carol, the personal cannot be made lush and large and beautiful, cannot be Part of a Wider Story. It’s small, petty, thin. BUT. It cannot escape Melton. It’s very distressing. And I really enjoyed the gradual reveals of how whackadoo Portman was too, and that final bleak, bleak, blackly funny scene. All of this for a terrible movie!!!
Oooooh Jessie I love to hear your thoughts. I, too, can’t stop thinking about Joe (and Melton). The scene where he tries to actually talk to her about what happened – and how he was too young to be making those decisions – just his body language there – he’s all crunched over, and he’s such a big guy, but he’s made himself so small – it’s like adulthood is a CONCEPT to him (which is why Elizabeth’s line to him about “grownups” is so unbelievably vicious. My God.)
and yeah – the scene at the end. WHAT. like, THAT’S what Elizabeth has been working on all this time? The result of all her research is … THAT?
She has that one line where she’s looking through the VERY disturbing casting calls – and she talks to the director saying “they aren’t sexy enough.” oh my God, Todd Haynes, stop it RIGHT NOW.
and yes – I really didn’t even mention the kids in my review. Not just THEIR kids, but the kids from her first marriage. Her nightmare son. like, how do you even incorporate into your world that … your mother did this. Ugh. Total carnage. And Joe and Gracie’s children – the son on the roof was just heartbreaking to me. He was so uncomfortable. At some point they had to have sat the kids down and told them the origin story – right? They all KNOW. but … again, none of it has been absorbed – because … it’s un-absorb-able material.
I thought everyone was so good. Julianne Moore’s brief line about how her “naivete” was a “gift in a way” is – peak Julianne Moore. She was so totally empty and I remember thinking I so wanted to see something – SOME sense of … remorse – or even AWARENESS of how messed up the situation is. But … it wasn’t there. It just was not there. Even her late night weeping freak outs weren’t from a place of self-awareness. It was more just panic.
It was really good – I don’t know if I’ll be watching it again any time soon though!
how he was too young to be making those decisions – just his body language there – he’s all crunched over, and he’s such a big guy, but he’s made himself so small – it’s like adulthood is a CONCEPT to him…[…].. They all KNOW. but … again, none of it has been absorbed – because … it’s un-absorb-able material.
Yes and I thought what a phenomenal choice to have the older daughter come home from college for the holidays, who if I’m not mistaken is their first child together — the baby conceived when he was 13 and who was born in prison – and have her angular, home-from-college energy. Everyone is in the bell jar, even Elizabeth by that stage — some are beating on the glass, some find it weird and awful but are living with it because it’s their community, their mum, their ex-wife, their neighbour — but the older sister comes in from AWAY. I bet she has a fascinating story — they all do!
“they aren’t sexy enough.”
oh my god I KNOW.
Definitely a memorable one, such an interesting choice for him!
// but the older sister comes in from AWAY. I bet she has a fascinating story — they all do! //
I loved that daughter. with her jagged unpredictable energy – and yes, outside the bell jar. I just wonder what it must BE like for them – growing up with this parental backstory and weirdness. When did the parents break it to them? Or did they tell them? The kids have the internet – they could look it up. How do you absorb it? How do you not … recoil from your mother? I felt like in the scene on the roof the teenage kid definitely had this slight distance from his dad – how can you be really close to your dad when … you can’t ever TALK about this huge thing? and when Dad said he had never smoked pot – because of course he hadn’t – he was a father at age 13 – just the look on the kid’s face, as his dad smoked, coughed, etc. It wasn’t just a kid’s humor at his un-cool dad. It’s like … he knew. This THING that happened was suddenly between them but unspoken. and I feel like I saw realy discomfort on the son’s face, but also … pity. Pity for his dad, who had been victimized.
Ugh. It was so upsetting.
I have really nothing to add to this brilliant review (and Jessie’s right on target thoughts) but when Portman said, “That’s what adults do.” I said to Charlie, “Can you stop this a minute?!” “That was so cruel!” to Charlie’s “I know!” And we sat there for a minute before going back. I can’t remember the last time I felt so shocked in a new film by that and other moments in the film, and surprised!
How the three main characters so slowly evolved to where I didn’t see things coming at all.
Melton really stole my heart and both Portman and Moore stunned me.
One thing I felt differently about was when Portman was talking to the students. At that moment I didn’t think it was weird. You want to be actors kids? You think you are cute with that question? Let’s talk frankly about what we do and what it feels like. But later when she reveals who she is I started to rethink it but then again as an actress you use everything, everything you got inside yourself. Where do you draw the line when it comes to other people?
The best movie I have seen by Haynes.
// And we sat there for a minute before going back. I can’t remember the last time I felt so shocked in a new film by that and other moments in the film, and surprised! //
Regina, I KNOW. Exactly. I felt like I had been STABBED when she said that.
How COULD she? she was WACKO. and CRUEL. all for some dumb movie where, from the likes of it, she was terrible in the part. lol
It’s also my favorite Haynes so far.
// You want to be actors kids? You think you are cute with that question? Let’s talk frankly about what we do and what it feels like. //
hahahaha I definitely can see that.
I feel the same as you – I had to keep re-thinking her, re-adjusting how I felt – every single thing she kept revealing was weirder than the one before. Is she aware of what she’s doing? also … what IS she doing?
By the end I was like, “this woman is a GHOUL.”
//Even her late night weeping freak outs weren’t from a place of self-awareness. //
“Her sister is dying or whatevs, but my caaaake [big sobs]” ha ha ha
“You seduced me. Who was in charge?” So hard to watch.
During the scene on the roof, my brain kept reminding me “right, he can’t relate to his teenage son’s experience because when he was that age, he’d already been a parent for several years.” It was hard to wrap my head around. “it’s as if that kid had a child already. With a woman my age.”
And a different kind of uncomfortable in the two scenes where the actresses face the camera.
Loved the face the camera shots. and loved the suddenly steely tone in Julianne Moore’s voice when she said “I’ve always been naive. It’s a gift.”
I felt like her performance was so unexpected. Yes, she wept at night – but her daytime self was just … breezing around like her life was normal. When they were having that dinner in the restaurant celebrating the high school graduation – and she INVITED Natalie Portman – like, WHY would you do that … she they see her “other” family – and it’s excruciating. But SHE acts like it’s a normal run-in, she’s all “Hi! How are you?”
she’s not clueless. she’s STEELY inside underneath that housewife practical exterior. she’s had to be to survive. I was going to say “she’s had to be to justify what she’s done” but …
I don’t think she feels she has to justify it. when she said “I was sheltered and he matured quickly” – I truly think she believes that.
It was weird seeing the doc Sam Now just a couple of days after seeing this one because … there’s a mom in that who is a real-life Gracie. I kept waiting to see if she had any FEELINGS about what she’s done – feelings other than “well, I was unhappy so I left, it makes sense to me” – but … those types of feelings just weren’t there.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.