This article will have short reviews for the following films in this order: Amadeus, Belgica, Widows, The Sisters Brothers, and Bohemian Rhapsody.
Amadeus is truly one of the best films ever made. The performance of Tom Hulce as Mozart was phenomenal, but F. Murray Abraham, who played his nemesis, was excellent as well. The film’s perfectly paced; don’t worry about it being three hours long, it’ll only feel half that length. The editing, in particular, was great, because of how well it lined up with the soundtrack and the camera movements presented. The decision to use Mozart’s own music as the soundtrack was genius, as the songs they picked fitted scenes perfectly. They often also used music in a more creative, less conventional manner, which really helped to place you inside of Mozart’s head. However, the thing that I liked the most was the perspective the film chose to tell its story from. Instead of showing us everything from Mozart’s perspective, the story is retold to us by Antonio, Mozart’s nemesis, which gives us a more relatable character as its protagonist than we would have had if it had been Mozart himself. We can all relate to jealousy, while we can’t to brilliance. Additionally, the costuming was brilliant, as was the production design all around, and evidently the directing as well.
Before our Belgian pride Felix Van Groeningen made Beautiful Boy, he directed Belgica, a family drama with at the center of it all two brothers. Each of these two brothers was developed thoroughly and even though they’re both far from perfect human beings, you start to care for them as the film goes on. The dialogue was excellent, and so were most of the performances in the film. The two leads were brilliant, though one of the bartenders, who plays a prominent role mid-way through the film, acted like she was in a soap opera, rather than in a drama. The way van Groeningen shot conversations was very engaging, often letting the camera swipe from character to character, creating a certain flow to the entire scene. However, the lack of establishing shots that he used could cause confusion in scene transitions, as I often thought that characters were still in one location until they suddenly found themselves in another. Furthermore, the editing certainly was the film’s biggest flaw, since some moments lacked build-up in order to have a proper emotional impact, and some moments were also later just quickly glossed over or never mentioned again.
If Steve McQueen were to make his interpretation of a standard action film, Widows would be the result. It’s a brilliant film in many regards like the editing, writing, and directing. Gillian Flynn was able to write such in-depth characters for the protagonists, and she created an incredibly intimidating group of villains. It’s certainly more of a character piece than it is a straight-up heist film, and consequently, the characters were the film’s best aspect. The protagonists were unique in their own way and they had their own struggles, though they were all relatable to some degree, which made it easy to root for them. Additionally, the villains all had their own motivations and they were fleshed out as characters as well. The story Flynn wrote was substance heavy and dealt with plenty of relevant themes that were all brought in an interesting and respectful manner. However, I didn’t really like how some of the story elements were forgotten about, and then suddenly introduced again out of nowhere. Steve McQueen’s presentation of the film was nothing less than amazing, using quite a few long takes, creating awesome, meaningful, and suspenseful scenes. The acting was mostly stellar as well, though there’s one scene in the middle for the film involving some confusing acting, where I wasn’t entirely sure what the actress was trying to convey, as I thought that she was going for one thing, but the subject material suggested elsewise. It’s an odd scene, but overall everyone was excellent and they pretty much all managed to portray their complex characters well, especially Daniel Kaluuya, Viola Davis, and Elizabeth Debicki were fantastic. Surprisingly, I thought that the score was just mediocre and nothing unique, but turns out that it was done by Hans Zimmer; it’s certainly not the best score he’s made.
Neither Widows nor The Sisters Brothers got the award recognition they deserve. Jacques Audiard makes use of some impeccable storytelling, as he’s able to convey his story with very little exposition and has the viewer figure things out on their own. His entire film is basically an homage to the westerns from the ’00s and ’10s of the 20th century in practically all regards. The film makes use of all types of techniques and uses them in a similar fashion as they were back then, like cross-cutting – a technique invented and perfected in the 10s’ –, vignettes, silhouettes, and the chase story was also popular in those days. There’s also some gorgeous cinematography at play with a beautiful color palette, capturing scenery that’ll certainly take your breath away. The performances were all wonderful, especially the one of John C. Riley. He had to perform an emotionally complex scene, that’s both funny and extremely sad, and he absolutely nailed it. The screenplay was really good as well; the story it told was fun and all of the characters were unique, well-developed, and their mutual conflicts were engaging to see play out on the big screen. The film uses a really unique style of comedy that worked well with the dramatic moments, making for a special viewing experience. Also, the soundtrack was amazing.
People either seem to hate Bohemian Rhapsody or love it, though I find myself in the middle. It confirmed the little knowledge I had of the band, and going into a biopic, I was expecting a little bit more. There wasn’t anything new to be learned, and it often felt like they just skipped over things that could’ve been learned. We never get to see anything outside of the basic level stuff. The film basically jumps from song creation to song creation, though what happens in between could have potentially also been interesting. Sure it’s fun to listen to songs I’ve heard before, but it’s disappointing that that’s basically all this film is; letting you listen to a bunch of Queen songs you’ve already heard before, framed in a story that you already know of. Furthermore, the way the story was framed felt very by the books and unoriginal. It feels like a standard biopic film, while they could’ve gone for a more colorful, flamboyant approach that’d also fit Freddie’s personality better. Though what I find the most shocking is that this film is nominated for an academy award for its editing, which I thought was awful. It was way too fast and it looked like they wanted to insert every shot they had every other second, especially in the first half. This made big chunks of the film feel like a continuous montage, rather than an actual film with a decent flow. However, the live aid concert was fantastic and made for a fitting way to end the film. The performances were great as well; Rami Malek certainly deserves his nomination as he was able to capture Freddie’s eccentric character brilliantly, and the other actors were also good. Additionally, they were all cast perfectly and all looked the part.