After the trailers, I settled in for an absorbing and thoughtful character study as the reviews have uniformly screamed. It also starred one of my favorite actors, Paul Giamatti, a man I’ve found compelling since Private Parts.
I looked at my watch fifteen minutes into the film, right after Giamatti’s character steals several hundred dollars from his unsuspecting mother. Fifteen minutes later, I saw Joe check out his watch.
I leaned in. “Ninety minutes to go.” The colorless soundtrack didn’t let up. I started to think of what I wanted for dinner.
“This movie is all montagey,” Joe whispered.
“Lazy storytelling.” We were witnessing the fourth or fifth musical interlude, time passed, and the talk talk talk of wine. I hate wine. I hate the taste of wine. Listening to grinding chatter about the stuff is as riveting as a stranger's horoscope.
Joe looked at his watch again.
“Forty-five minutes.” My face was grim. Freedom was steps away, just on the other side of that door over there. Luckily, the director, Alexander Payne, cleverly divided the film into days-of-the-week chapters, reminding his audience that they were, indeed, going to stay in place for an entire week. We started on Saturday, went through Sunday, spent way too much time on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
I glared at my watch when Friday finally came around. With twenty more minutes left, the end was in sight. I squirmed in my chair, ate popcorn one kernal at a time to busy myself, wondering if I could name each of Santa's reindeer.
We were the first ones out of the theater.
Every year, there seems to be one film that breaks from the pack, garnering uniform praise, and I get sucked in. You Can Count On Me, About Schmidt, Mystic River, Gladiator, and the granddaddy of them all, The English Patient.
I'm thankful the one this year is behind me.