Sushi, Without the Extras

How do you think he got the ideas for the Prince? From his cat, of course.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Mist

Having attended a preview of this film, I went hunting to find the collective reaction of other viewers and was absolutely flummoxed that there were positive reviews. Up front, I should tell you that this film is execrable. Darabont's vision of the Stephen King novella of the same name is fractured, both thematically and in terms of the film's execution. The novella may indeed have effectively tackled such significant issues of class, in-group/out-group rivalries, religion, and the nature of humanity, but the film does so only ineptly, trying to draw out too many themes to develop. Darabont's script is stilted, and the already unsteady writing is only further undermined by Thomas Jane's completely listless portrayal of the simple Mr. Drayton. Darabont squeezes in dialogue concerning all of these issues, but he fails to achieve any real depth of development. Brief, wooden discussions of the nature of man do not make either for entertaining viewing or intellectual stimulation. The one character who does stand out is the religious zealot whose seething hate and burgeoning megalomania turns the Food House into as warped and bloody a space as the outside world. Ably portrayed by Marcia Gay Harden, Mrs. Carmody is horrifyingly riveting. She whips up the denizens of the Food House into a religious fervor that rivals that of the Bacchae of old, but rather than leaving well enough alone, Darabont detracts from Harden's performance by focusing her hate on the store's only pretty blonde and consistently insisting that she's really is merely unstable. Hence, the viewer is predisposed to conclude that her rantings are simply that, and her rise to power in the Food House makes absolutely no sense. I suppose we're meant to conclude that humans are silly creatures, and eminently suggestible when frightened--Oh, wait, that's actually written into the script, in case you were too thick to get it.

I guess ultimately, my greatest criticism is that the film should have ended some 45 minutes before it did. Darabont allows himself too much masturbatory time in the converted world, and he caps it all off with an unfortunate ending that MIGHT have been shockingly ironic or moving if I'd cared about any of the characters in the first place. Rather than leaving the theatre thinking about Darabont's daring cynicism about the human condition, I left feeling unfortunately sticky and completely unsatisfied.

Then, I was shocked to read that many critics considered this film thought provoking. I was confounded; not only did I want those two hours of my life back, but I was profoundly depressed that the bar for American film-making has apparently been set so low. Darabont's film is poorly paced and poorly acted, and I for one was insulted by his apparent assessment of my intelligence. I guess I just have higher expectations and a better estimation of my own worth than some other writers...


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