Obligatory mention: This movie was written and directed by Woody Allen. Woody Allen married his step-daughter (who was adopted by his then wife). Woody Allen has been accused by his adopted daughter of child abuse. For too long fans and critics have ignored or dismissed these aspects of Allen’s life when discussing his films.
On a personal note, I still don’t know what to do but this film exists. I got it from the library. To the best of my knowledge, by watching and reviewing this film I got from the library I am not giving him any money.
This is one of Allen’s British noirs that he’s been making couple of decades. If you’ve seen any of them, you know they are significantly different than his normal fair. (That would be a relief for anyone who finds his film persona objectionable except, of course, for the accusation of child abuse.) The film is pretty traditional from a story telling perspective, compared to the most notable of those British noirs but there’s a curious spin on the story, which involves some spoilers.
There’s something odd about either of the characterization of the two brothers or the casting, and I can’t decide which. Farrell plays the gambler and McGregor plays his brother who doesn’t appear to do much with his time. In these early going stages, the casting feels okay, I guess. But once the two brothers start contemplating the murder, it’s not who you’d think who is for doing it. And that’s where I really get kind of frustrated. I’m not sure whether it’s the actors play the wrong characters or the characters behave in ways you wouldn’t expect. I think the latter might be a major point of the story – it’s not who’d you expect who commits murder, but there’s something about it that doesn’t feel authentic to me, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
That being said, it’s very well acted – as you might expect – given the cast. Allen has a pretty traditional view of morality – at least, in these films, if not in his personal life – where the bad things you do either haunt you or turn you evil. I don’t know how accurate that view truly is – especially if you’ve seen something like The Act of Killing – but it certainly resonates, if the enduring popularity of Greek Tragedy and Shakespeare is anything to go by. I got so hung up on the casting/characterization issue that I’m not sure how effective I find this particular variation of this traditional view of morality. I will say I like how it goes a different way than other stories have with this kind of material, so that’s something.
7/10 I guess, because the ending makes up for a lot of the problems I had with the rest of the movie.