Thursday, October 4, 2012

772. The Dead (1987)

Running Time: 83 minutes
Directed By: John Huston
Written By: Tony Huston, from story by James Joyce
Main Cast: Anjelica Huston, Donal McCann, Cathleen Delany, Helena Carroll, Rachael Dowling


To be honest, John Huston really got screwed out of having his own, special week dedicated to him, here on this blog. With a whopping eight John Huston pictures contained in THE BOOK, I could have easily paid tribute to the late director and got to know his work better. As it is, I'll be sprinkling around his filmography as I continue on.

"The Dead", however, wasn't his best work and in fact, I really didn't care for it much at all. The plot isn't much, so it won't take long to outline the story. It's Christmas time in Dublin, Ireland and the year is 1904. Family is gathering at the home of Aunt Julia (Delany) and Aunt Kate (Carroll) and an evening filled with dancing, feasting and togetherness is about to commence. The evening starts with a bit of dancing, a grand piano in a large room is being played by several guests trading off every song or two. One guest sings a song to the group and another reads a letter. The elephant in the room is the drunken state of Freddy Malins, who shows up late, looking disheveled. Aunt Julia's nephew, Gabriel Conroy (McCann) and his wife, Gretta (Huston) show up late as well, but everyone is so glad to see them that their lateness isn't an issue. From there, we head to the dining room, where a goose is carved and discussions are ignited. Gabriel carves and passes the feast around the table for everyone to enjoy and when dinner is concluded, he toasts his aunts. The evening grows later and cabs are hailed, as guests depart the home of the elder aunts, heading back to their own lives with full bellies. Gabriel and Gretta arrive home and Gretta reminisces about a dead lover, someone whom Gabriel has never heard mentioned before.

You don't need "spoiler alert" here because, truth be told, there's really nothing to spoil. I've basically outlined the entire plot, from beginning to end above and there's nothing I can tell you that would make your viewing have any less or any more impact. That's my biggest problem with this film and really my only problem; the fact that literally nothing of note happens in the 83 minute running time. Nothing is revealed, there's really no climax, there's no character development, there's just a plain film with nothing really going on. Guests arrive, they dance, they sing, they make speeches, they eat dinner, the quarrel, they rejoice, they reminisce, they go home, end of story. And when I say they quarrel, I don't mean that their quarreling actually leads to something. They have little disagreements and they debate them and then they finish their goose and pudding. I didn't hate it or anything, but I was left wondering what makes this movie so "must see". What happened here, that I missed, that warranted this film's inclusion into a book of must see movies? The actors and actresses were fine and when I say fine, I do mean fine in every sense of the word. They were seasoned and they were a great crew, but their talents were lost on a story that just left me wanting a whole lot more.

RATING: 4.5/10  We'll keep it short and sweet today, because that was really my one and only complaint. It's just that it was such a huge complaint that it lowered the rating clear down to below average.


October 4, 2012  3:56pm

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