The big screen adaptation of Neil Simon’s play is not only one of the best romance comedies I’ve ever seen, but is also one of the very few romance comedies to make me laugh hysterically. The pairing of Jane Fonda with Robert Redford is a master stroke, and the pair as lovelorn newlyweds reveal a hidden often underrated comedic timing that makes the movie as much of a slapstick comedy as it is a sweet tale of reality dawning on two just married lovers that find life rearing its head toward them slowly.
If there was ever any doubt before of the acting ability of Robert Redford in his long career as a film star, then “All is Lost” may change many minds. “All is Lost” is very much a film I was not prepared for. I’d heard rumblings that it was basically “Castaway” meets “The Grey,” but that’s a complete misunderstanding of what “All is Lost” is striving for. “All is Lost” has two lines of dialogue, and only one character in it. Even “Castaway” about a man stuck on an island for many years couldn’t help stuffing the film with a slew of performers.
Guilt is a complex anomaly in the human psyche. It’s remorseless, it’s unbiased, it lingers for decades, and many times it takes on different forms. It can take on the form of blame, and it can form into blame of the most unlikely people, just to make sense of the senseless in our lives. In the face of tragedy some people just need to point fingers and blame the innocent just to help us cope with a horrible trauma, and the same can be said for the characters featured in one of my favorite dramas of all time.
I wasn’t expecting much from “An Unfinished Life,” that much is true. Not even Robert Redford can turn a bad movie into a watchable one. But after I was finished with it, I liked it. It’s cheesy in some parts, and recycled, but in the end I’d enjoyed spending almost two hours with these characters. Hell, even Morgan Freeman, whose character Mitch is just another variation on his character from “Million Dollar Baby,” even was an interesting character. Freeman is able to be likable in basically anything he’s in and he’s become a rare commodity in Hollywood, which happens to be a damn shame. The man is too talented for narration, and appearing for five minutes as a mentor to someone.
As much as I didn’t want it to be what with the excellent cast of great actors, “The Clearing” is a surprisingly routine hostage flick with all the usual foibles and aspects you’d expect from a film such as this. Plus, it comes off in the end as utterly incomplete and half-assed. I love Robert Redford, and I think he’s still an immensely talented man, but this is just an overall lame-brained attempt at something more existential. The film goes on and on without even much of a full concept. We have Helen Mirren’s character who is desperate for her husband but begins exploring his shady past and their life together, but that’s never really explored with as much depth as it could have been, we meet the children, one is an eager son, the other is a beautiful daughter, but they’re never truly explored, then we have the bonding of this family whom were disconnected in life but connect during this tragedy, and sadly, that is a concept not truly explored as I wanted it to be.
Surely, this is one of those obscure classics that people should know more about, and should really talk more about, but alas, it isn’t, and that’s a damn shame. My favorite heroes be it literary, cinematic, or otherwise, were the brainy heroes, and the reluctant heroes, two of which are represented here in this Redford classic about espionage, action, adventure, and government paranoia.