Beat (2000)

Off Beat Off

I will travel to see a film that is “folded“ in the simple sense this one is: writing about writing, especially when the story is historically based and most especially when the literary tradition in question is all about just this manner of folding. I also admire when a writer succeeds in marrying the difficulties of personal relationships to the difficulties of writing. They don’t have much to do with each other in the real world, but there is a rich literary tradition that pretends so.

These elements give this a head start: being about itself, being about relationships (sexual) that relate to the more visceral relationships of self and word, and finally concerning the very literary tradition that examines and self-consciously breaks that link.

This could have been an important film, a life-altering experience.

It is visually well crafted for what it is. But what it is, is a litany of lost opportunities, and even that is not mined in the lost opportunities mined.

What works: C Love has a screen presence roughly appropriate in intensity. Mexico’s seduction is apparent. None of these actors are bad. The flashback structure is narratively effective.

But Ms Love is the centre of the whole enterprise. Everything else, even Sutherland’s manufactured smarm, would have worked if she had been as self aware and multidimensional as her character was, and also had the extra dimensions the project demands. Her abilities stretch as far as having a stagy attraction, one that is attractive solely because of the effort put into it rather than one that shines out of a fuller being. This woman was the boiler of an entire literary era, a womb of literate anarchy, a selfish hedonist whose pleasure included pleasures of (then new) personally sculpted, even styled irony.

A dumb grunger just wouldn’t understand, and isn’t that the point?

Posted in 2003

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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