the fresh films reviews

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Sophie's Choice (1982)

Directed by:
Alan J. Pakula
Sophies valg
157 minutes
Produced by:
Alan J. Pakula
Keith Barish
Written by (based on the novel by William Styron):
Alan J. Pakula

Cast includes:

Sophie Zawistowska Meryl Streep
Nathan Landau Kevin Kline
Stingo Peter MacNicol



Alan J. Pakula has (almost single-handedly) converted William Styron's multi-layered novel to the screen. It is a movie featuring elements of some of the most tragic issues of WWII, as our initially untouched young American narrator hooks up with a seemingly self-destructingly tight-knit couple of different European ethnic descent. The histories of the characters are interesting enough on an isolated level, but Pakula ultimately cannot interweave all his themes and implications to a satisfactory unit, and too many of his conclusions and lines of thematic development seem forced and unnatural. The Kevin Kline character is the main source of suspense, but Kline's performance is overdone and his (more or less) hidden past is all too enigmatic. To keep suspense in a drama like this one, you have to come up with a faster pace of narration than does Pakula here. There are moments of genuine dramatic value (and brilliant acting) such as a few scenes in our introduction to the Meryl Streep character plus the undoubtedly despairing scene involving the nature of the title, but for all the brilliance of Streep's performance (including an impressive accent), she's rarely supported by Pakula's somewhat pretentious direction. And the parallel love-story, involving the Peter MacNicol character, far from casts of sparks, leaving us with a movie that so badly wants to work on so many levels that it gets caught up with itself.

Copyright 7.9.2004 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang [HAVE YOUR SAY]