Thursday, July 11, 2013

Film Review--Twelve Monkeys

starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, Frank Gorshin, Christopher Plummer, and James Franco as "The Beav"

It is the year 2035.  The majority of the human race has been wiped out by an unknown virus and the survivors are forced to live underground.  A convicted criminal (Willis) is sent back in time to 1996, the year the pandemic began, in hopes of discovering its origin.  The only hitch is that he time travels to 1990 by mistake and is thrown into a psychiatric ward.  While there, he meets a psychiatrist (Stowe) who is intrigued by his story and the insane son (Pitt) of a virologist (Plummer).

Bleak and bizarre.  That is how I would describe this film.  Probably why I liked it as well.

The "bizarre" part of the equation should come as no surprise when you find that the director is Terry Gilliam.  A resume that includes The Fisher King and Time Bandits is a clear indicator that you're not going to get a film that is straightforward in its delivery.  It is "bleak" not only for the post-apocalyptic theme of a deadly plague killing most everyone, but mostly for the desperation of the characters.  They are repeatedly in situations where no one believes them but what they are saying is the absolute truth.  Bruce Willis does not play an indestructible action hero in this movie.  Instead, he is vulnerable, alone, and often subjected to the most inhumane conditions.  This is a striking aspect of the story as many of the conditions depicted are not fictional but very real.

Speaking of believing someone's story, I really liked the transference that occurs over the course of the film.  Stowe goes from being convinced that Willis is insane to buying into his mission.  Willis goes from howling that he's telling the truth to thinking that he might be insane.  Over time though, both characters must accrete to a point of working together towards an inevitable and unhappy end. 

Brad Pitt's performance earned him an Oscar nod and it was truly well deserved.  It was a real treat to see Frank Gorshin outside of The Riddler from the 1960s Batman.  Madeleine Stowe was super hot as always.

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1 comment:

  1. On Facebook, PeteR said: "Classic movie, man. We were talking about it at work only the other day. Going to watch World War Z next week and Another Earth tomorrow."