Movie Review - Blind Date
By Ron Wilkinson Oct 11, 2009, 15:40 GMT
Too psychological and “film school” for some but a fine homage to Theo Van Gogh’s integrity and courage as a filmmaker and student of the human condition
“Blind date” is a heartbreaking story of all-enveloping tenderness and caring. At the end of the film the viewing audience knows what it is like to love something more than you thought possible and to continue living after that thing is lost. The film is a remake of Theo Van Gogh’s award winning 1996 Dutch film by the same name. When he was killed in 2004 by a religious fanatic the idea to remake three of his films with American stars was born. This is the second of those films with “Interview” with Steve Buscemi being the first. As Buscemi was also the lead who also directed the first film, Tucci directed this one.
For those of you who cherish every performance by multiple Emmy Award winner Stanley Tucci or Golden Globe nominated Patricia Clarkson this is a must-see film. As in the iconic “My Dinner with Andre” (Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory---1981) and the legendary “Sleuth” (Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine—1972) this is a screenplay stripped down to the bare essentials: an ongoing conversation between two persons. Tucci and Clarkson share the entire film from start to finish with only a very few brief interjections from the waiter (giant Dutch film star Thijs Römer, “the Brad Pitt of Holland”).
The conversations take place in various rooms of the pub where the two have agreed to meet. In the first scene they meet as two persons who made their connection through an online matchmaking service. The know each other in some ways but in other ways they are strangers. The conversation starts off tense and guarded but then eases up to some extent as time goes on. After this there are subsequent conversations but they all start off the same way and always seem to end by falling short of some mark. The mission is slowly revealed to the audience as the dialog progresses. As the objective of the meetings is revealed the distance from the goal increases in spite of the best intentions of the characters.
Don and Janna are in love. They are seriously in love but there is a monumental trauma that has come between them. They are meeting as strangers to establish the reconnection they had at a time earlier in their lives. Each meeting is the same and it is different as each of them tries on different personas to get a new angle on the heartbreak or perhaps adopt a new psyche that will be better able to handle the situation then the real person inside.
The blunt simplicity of the dialog, sets, costumes and performances makes this film a hard hitter. It is a disturbing story and the antithesis of the perfect first date film. Although completely appropriate for adults in relationships, the story will be much too heavy for most teenagers.
The cinematography by Thomas Kist is outstanding, approaching the Dogme films in its realism and lean and mean velocity. Producers Bruce Weiss and Gijs Van de Westelaken determined that the original “three camera” approach should be strictly adhered to. This meant three cameras ran at all times, one over the shoulder of each player and one taking the master shot. This enhances the stripped down power of each scene as the viewer is so drawn into the composition that the photographer almost disappears.
As the scenes change the viewer is drawn into increasingly funnier and more absurd scenarios the characters use to escape the trap they are in. As the scene gets more ridiculous the audience finds comic relief but the knife of the impending fate of the two protagonists only drives in deeper and twists harder. With each twist and turn through the mass of their torn emotions they only drop deeper into the quicksand of their bottomless despair.
Directed by: Stanley Tucci
Written by: David Schechter and Stanley Tucci
Starring: Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson
Release: September 25, 2009
MPAA: Not Rated
Runtime: 80 minutes
Country: USA / UK