Saturday, January 22, 2011

1985: Out of Africa

A wealthy Danish woman named Karen marries a baron with little money, and they move to Kenya initially to start a dairy, but they ultimately decide to grow coffee.  However, the Baron is more interested in leaving on business trips and being unfaithful to his wife than farming, so Karen is left to run the plantation.  This is not very successful, as the natives have predicted, but Karen endures her hardships by falling in love with a big game hunter named Denys.  Unfortunately, this relationship even turns into a hardship when Denys refuses to settle down with her.

There were some aspects of this movie that I really liked, but not quite enough to make up for the aspects I didn't.  Meryl Streep is, of course, fabulous, and Robert Redford is always fun to watch.  The cinematography is probably the best thing about the film: there are many gorgeous shots of breathtaking scenery, and the whole movie is very visually appealing.  But the story drags a lot.  There are many promising side-stories - Karen's developing relationship with the natives, issues with growing coffee at that elevation, the other British people that live nearby, etc - that are brushed over in favor of love scenes between Streep and Redford.  And then toward the end, we have to hear them have the same argument over and over: yes, we know, Meryl Streep wants him to marry her, but Robert Redford wants to remain a free spirit.  We don't have to hear about it six times.

This is yet another example of a really long, depressing Best Picture.  Unlike Amadeus, which is long but keeps moving the story forward at a pretty good pace, I think this film could have easily been much shorter.  In the last 45 minutes, I kept thinking it was about to end, but it just kept plodding on and on and on.  I was starting to think that it never actually finished, but just kept going forever.  Thankfully, that was not the case.  As beautiful as the cinematography is, and as much as I like the lead actors, I got really tired of this film, and I was relieved when it was over.

Coming Up Next: Platoon

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