Monday, November 12, 2007

Lions for Lambs - a risk worth taking?

Gracchi thinks that Lions for Lambs is flawed but that it's central story (the Streep-Cruise showdown) is compelling. Normally I'd take his advice but these reviews are so utterly damning that I'm not sure. The Onion A.V. Club:

"Lambs' central chatterboxes function as bloodless abstractions—empty, unconvincing conduits for clashing ideologies. These aren't human beings; they're sentient position papers."

Dana Stevens:

"Meryl Streep tries to bring her "A" game to the scenes with Cruise, throwing in speech tics and bits of business to give her character some heft. But both politician and journalist are such cutouts (he spouts about the axis of evil, she sighs disapprovingly and scribbles on her pad) that they might as well be debating on Meet the Press. Cruise gets one juicy moment that recalls Jack Nicholson's iconic "You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall" speech in A Few Good Men. But he throws away the chance to embody the passion of the true believer; he never lets us forget that he's only pretending to be Republican."

John Podhoretz basically just describes the plot but, as Ross Douthat notes, that is pretty effective in establishing its ridiculous quality:

"After Cruise gets a phone call informing him that the new strategy is already a failure because Redford's two students are bleeding on the mountain, he turns to her and speaks the truth. He is tired of America being humiliated, he says. She leaves his office, begins to hyperventilate, and tells her boss that Cruise is going to become the next president and use nuclear weapons on unsuspecting Muslims. Her boss tells her to write up the news without mentioning the whole nuclear-weapons thing. She says she will not be a vehicle for warmongering propaganda the way the entire news media were the last time. He says she'd better, or Streep's sick mother will no longer be able to receive 24-hour care."

I'm half tempted to watch the thing just to find out if Gracchi has really got it so uncharacteristically wrong.


Anonymous said...

I should say that I realise now that my review came out less damning than I thought it did. The thing that I was trying to get at is that if they had made the streep cruise thing the centre it would have worked. But they didn't so its a bad film but it has this one good thing in it. I'm sorry that didn't come across. Incidentally I also hope the fact that I disparaged its over emotionalism got across I realise it didn't- my writing I apologise!

Mountjoy said...

I was at a loose end in Belfast last night, so I thought I'll go to see Lions for Lambs.

As a tough Ulsterman, it takes a lot to move me. This is a fantastic film which juxtaposes three extended scenes relating to the central plot, each involving two protagonists (e.g. Cruise, Streep), and does so brilliantly.

Not till the third half of the film(yes, that is Irish - I mean the second third!) does the penny drop and when it does it makes this an even more powerful film.

It's worth the risk - ENJOY!