Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Film Review No. 31 The Meyerowitz Stories (15+)

Strong Points:
Strong ensemble cast
Involving story
Balances drama and comedy nicely...
Nice cameos
Interesting colour correction and filters
Sharp, stilted dialogue works - two conversations are happening at once
Constant back referencing to past conversations really involves the audience
Great uses of music
Use of sharp cuts brings you out of story to focus on another one
Surprisingly emotional by the end

Weak Points:
Slightly too long
...Although sometimes goes too far in trying to get to either end of the spectrum
Emma Thompson's character is underused

Some spoilers ahead:

In-depth Review:
I'm going to put my hands up and say it: I was only interested in this movie to begin with because Adam Sandler was getting great reviews. I know, there are other actors (Ben Stiller also piqued my interest), but the main reason I saw this movie was to see Adam Sandler actually act. Which is probably why they cast him.

In a film so packed with dialogue, the characters are the stars of the show. Each as strong as the next (mostly), with their own quirks and difficulties, spending too much time with any of them would probably drive you insane. Thankfully, not only is the dialogue and story packed but it is also quick, with us jumping character to character, being introduced cautiously first before they are all thrust under the spotlight together near the end.

We start with Adam Sandler's, Danny, another classic Sandler man-child but with a more delicate hand at the writing table. We spend the first ten or so minutes of the film trying to watch him park his car in New York. Needless to say, he doesn't but it gives us a nice distraction to the exposition between him and his daughter, similar to the walking corridor of The West Wing. Sandler managed to bring some great and unexpected emotion to his role, especially as he recounts why he didn't carry on with music and his relationship with his father and brother.

Next up we have Harold Meyerowitz, the father of Danny, Matthew and Jane, played by Dustin Hoffman. Another impressive performance by Hoffman, talking in stilted English throughout, as a character who is distinctly self-piteous about his success in the art world. You're never completely sure what he means by anything, which makes him both deeply intriguing and frustrating. Just as you think he's developing, he'll backtrack with double speed.

We meet Jane next, played by Elizabeth Marvel, a character who's credited as more supporting, echoing her role in the film (even though I believe she plays a more prominent part than Emma Thompson's Maureen). After being questioned as to why she continues to help people like her father when they aren't nice to her she replies - 'because I'm not a d%/*' (or something to that effect) which pretty much sums up her character. Her part of the story is told with great restraint and sincerity, and made me pause and just think. But just as quickly we move on. I don't think this was a mistake, but more of a stylistic choice - everything, even the cuts echo the characters.

Finally, we have Matthew, played by Ben Stiller. A successful accountant (much to the disdain of everyone including himself), Matthew is the most 'normal' out of all of them. One of the main points of the film is that Matthew believes that his father doesn't agree with his choices while everyone else (besides perhaps Harold whose beliefs I still don't really know) believes that Matthew is Harold's favourite. This constant battling, nearly tipping over but not quite, instead spilling out into comedy (destroying a car and not realising they're bleeding).

There is a mix of comedy and drama in the film, not laugh out loud comedy or 'ugly cry' drama but a cathartic mix of the two. Now, I do believe it treads the line slightly with just too far, but I won't go into spoiling that now. There's also musical elements in The Meyerowitz Stories, namely by Danny using the piano. These songs help break up the films pacing and weren't used for comedy or drama - just to be there.

The visual style of the film was interesting, with a grainy feel to it and constant filling of the film with people and objects. The overall effect is a busy quality, especially when combined with the speed of the speaking. This makes the sudden cuts when moving to the next story all the more jumping, allowing you to refocus your brain without it getting overloaded.

Conclusion: overall, I really enjoyed this film and by the end was even quite emotional (Stiller's speech was great). I'd recommend anyone cautious of a Sandler or Stiller film to give The Meyerowitz Stories at least a look.

Rating: 82%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

P.S. Is Adam Driver in everything now?

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