19 May 2006

On seeing The Da Vinci Code

Well, we succumbed to all the hype and publicity and saw The Da Vinci Code tonight (it opened on Wednesday in France). Jerry was lost and confused for about 75% of the film. Beth enjoyed it. Amy didn't care for it. Colin thought it was okay. So...even though the critics seem to be remarkably unanimous, we are anything but. Here are some thoughts from Colin and Amy:

Ron Howard is simply not a great film maker. His cinematography was tremendously predictable and unimaginative, at times even over-done. The script was weak (our audience laughed-out-loud at the same line that sent Cannes tittering): characters were poorly developed and some of the story lines too thin to be followed. The script's greatest flaw--it assumes that all of the viewers have read the book. (Just to clarify, Jerry was lost for two reasons: #1 because the French dialogue was not subtitled and the Spanish and Latin dialogue was subtitled in French; #2 because he has not read the book.)

As far as the actors, a mixed bag. The only character I felt any sympathy for was Silas--Paul Bettany did a very nice, very subtle job of showing Silas recognizing the realities of his situation. Sir Ian McKellan did fine, as long as you don't mind imaging Teabing as a doddering old Brit who's watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail a few too many times. Hanks, Tautou, Réno, et al.--I thought they gave mediocre performances that were hampered by a weak script.

Of course, the film's been surrounded by "scandal" and "blasphemy." If you think that this book or the film are blaspheming religion, you're probably overreacting, especially where the film is concerned. Opus Dei isn't really demonized in the film (the book paints them in much worse light). The Catholic Church itself hardly appears. And, let's face it, the theories that Dan Brown put so much stock in--very provocative, great potential for a fictional novel, and...well...rather dubious. [And for the record, can someone explain to me how a fictitious group that was allegedly founded in 1090 AD can have been battling the Catholic Church for 20 centuries?]

Bottom line--if you haven't read the book, don't waste your money. If you have read the book, it's probably worth seeing, probably on video or on HBO.

I was pretty disappointed overall. For me, a great movie sucks you in and makes you forget that you're in a fictional world all together. It's an escape from the normal, everyday world. Da Vinci Code the movie just didn't suck me in. Granted, I was lost every time the actors spoke a different language and there was no English refuge for me to fall back on ... that definitely put a damper on things. But even when English was being spoken, I found it very difficult to get immersed in the story. In fact, in a few spots, I wished I had read the book more recently because I couldn't remember/figure out what the motives of the characters were. I'll second Colin's statement that reading the book is a prerequisite.

Having said all that, I still love Audrey Tautou and Paul Bettany. I think the script killed them because they had no opportunity to offer depth to their characters. If they had had the opportunity, I think they both would have shined. Paul Bettany was a great Silas, but again, if you haven't read the book, you don't really understand what he's doing or what his motivations are. As for Audrey Tautou -- she's just so darned cute! I suggest renting Amélie instead of going to see Da Vinci Code in the theaters. You'll get a better mystery with clues, and undoubtedly a much better movie.


At 20/5/06 02:03, Blogger Joe said...

I think my favorite review was from the NY Times. It said something to the effect that this is the first book adaptation in which the movie took longer to get through than the book.

At 21/5/06 15:02, Blogger croust said...

I should clarify one thing from my comments: "Ron Howard is simply not a great film maker." In other words, he's nothing like Griffith, Clair, Hitchcock, Kubrick, or Malick.

He is, however, a good (or at least better-than-average) film maker.

At 22/5/06 06:01, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Audrey Tautou is, probably the 2nd or 3rd most beautiful woman in the world (after Lisa and Salma Hayek).


At 31/5/06 19:58, Blogger BadlyDrawnBoy said...

The main reason i m going to see this movie ia Audrey Tautou. She has one of the prettiest faces in celebrity world. However is unphysically thin. Her legs look like matchsticks. Has she put some kilos on, she ll be fantastic - maybe the best of all


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