April 6, 2014 at 10:40 am #368Hannah GlaserParticipant
I apologize in advance if this offends anyone, but I have to be honest.
I was totally and completely repulsed by this film. The only valuable meaning I could find in the movie was if it is interpreted as a cautionary tale against drugs and alcohol. And frankly, there are much more effective ways to dissuade people from drug use than by submitting them to emotionally draining “entertainment.”
If the purpose of the film was to show the damage caused by drug use, the movie should have shown us something about the person Sadie was before she left home and fell into this stagnant state of destruction. The transition from a whole, cognizant individual to a person whose mind has been driven to distorted envy would have been much more powerful, and also tragic, if tragedy was the intention. The definition of tragedy is “a dramatic composition of a great person destined through a flaw of character or conflict with some overpowering force, as fate or society, to downfall or destruction.” In order for this to be considered a tragedy, there would have to be a fall, and in this film, we see only the consistently destructive relationship between Sadie and Georgia, and there is no evidence that Sadie was ever “great,” although she may once have been innocent.
To be honest, I had condemned Sadie within the first few minutes, when she watches stupidly as her cat jumps from the unprotected seat of a convertible, (why he was there in the first place is another issue), and she is completely un-phased and chooses to drives away. However, I tried to remain as impartial as possible for the remainder of the movie, and this is what I determined. Sadie’s character is seen through a distorted lens, and nothing she says can be interpreted as reliable or representative of her beliefs. Jennifer Leigh did a respectable job acting as a completely incoherent and damaged young woman, but her character did not undergo any significant change or triumph. Physically, she suffers through withdrawal, but her behavior at the end of the movie, (where she is back on stage, and says, “No one sings that song better than my sister”) shows that she fully intends to return to her old habits, and is still deeply envious of Georgia’s success. I think that if more time were devoted to building Sadie’s character, (by means of flashback perhaps), the message of the film could completely change. For instance, if we learned that Sadie had previously been close to Georgia, but drugs had caused her to blame/ resent her, that would be much different than if jealousy had triggered the drug use. These two possibilities lend themselves to completely different characters, and either is possible from what is shown on screen.
Of my extensive criticisms of this film, the most unforgivable fault is the astonishing failure in character-building. Many of the characters appeared and vanished suddenly, and without reason. Generally, the audience had no idea who each character was, what their motivations were, or much of anything about them at all, and it didn’t seem to matter. The other characters acted almost as props, things for Sadie to stand next to, and reasons for scenes to take place.
Axle for one seemed completely out of place in the movie, I suppose he was meant to be a sort of prince charming, or represent an obvious way out for Sadie, but his behavior was completely unrealistic. In the scene when he first enters Sadie’s apartment, he is perceived as a potential threat, using the word “maniac” while his eyes trail after her open robe. Every sentence he speaks begins with “I,” which lead me to believe he was going to be an egocentric or selfish character. But then, he begins to take care of Sadie, by cleaning the apartment, and we are supposed to believe this is a selfless act. Overall, I can only describe his behavior as bizarre. Anyone with the decency or desire to care for Sadie would not then take advantage by marrying her while she is clearly not mentally stable. Axle’s behavior is full of contradictions which lead me to believe that his character is primarily a plot device, and not given much thought.
Georgia’s husband was also a confusing character, who could be paralleled to the huntsman only out of necessity. At several points he seems to be overly interested in Sadie, but his attraction to her is never definite. He seems to care about her, but later we learn that he has taken Saide to a bar immediately before she was to perform, showing a lack of concern for her well-being. He defends Sadie in conversation with his wife, arguing that she is “original.” I can’t imagine how he arrived at that adjective to describe someone so completely distorted by drugs, someone whose identity has been all but lost to chemical damage and unrestrained envy.
This movie in my opinion falls into a category of creative works which rely largely on shock value for their success. As an artist, I find these types of creations insulting, and think that they often lessen the public’s perception of art as a whole. Aside from some very strong acting, some occasionally appealing camera work, and enjoyable music on the part of Georgia, there is very little good to be said about the film. Finally, I think the most heroic action in the film is on the part of the teenager who gave Sadie his shoes in the airport.April 6, 2014 at 1:03 pm #369Victoria SimoneParticipant
I find this review entirely accurate. I was thinking after the film that this is one of the few films I genuinely did not enjoy watching. I was personally worried that if I were to post on the forum this week most of my comments would be negative, but I think that you have hit every complaint I had regarding the film. The acting was well done, and there were indeed a few moments where I felt pity for Sadie’s character. However, for the most part, I could not like her. I agree that there was very little character development in the film and that much of what happens seems random and out of place. After the dreadful performance Sadie completed on the stage for many minutes (7-8 I believe), I was almost ready to cover my ears. After the viewing I went to the Wikipedia page, and it states plainly that the “singing” scene was either seen as emotionally devastating or insufferable. I, unfortunately, have the opinion of the second. I found that this film had many similarities to Rachel Getting Married in terms of sisterly jealousy, and how one sister is noticeably less successful and appreciated than the other. I definitely do not think either of the lead actresses deserved an Oscar. I suppose since it is an independent film, it is bound to polarize the audience. I feel tat the music was not necessary, at least not including the songs in their entirety. Perhaps if Sadie had a slightly more pleasant voice I would have enjoyed it more. In fact, if Sadie did have a lot of talent I think more sympathy would have been felt for her. Instead of being an annoying character who has no future in the singing career and still pursues it hopelessly, while abusing drugs, she could have been a promising talent who falls prey to the underground demons of the music world, and hopelessly tries to live up to her sister. Overall, I think the film was well acted, some of the music was enjoyable, and the directing was well done as well. However, the lack of character development really weighed it down.April 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm #370Dorothea KuntzeParticipant
I agree with all of the statements and reviews. After this movie ended I was overwhelmed with a feeling of confusion and dissatisfaction. The whole movie created tension between the family, but never revealed the reasoning. As for the plot, it was more a series on unanswered questions rather than a story line: What happened to their mother? Sadie and Georgia seemed close when they were younger (at s seen in the flashback to them singing as kids), but what caused a rift in their relationship? Was it jealousy? Why does Sadie hate her father? Why did Sadie start drinking and using drugs in the first place? Why is Sadie’s father so isolated? There was nothing that propelled the plot and if the film was a review on human nature and not centered on a story, there was no character development or insight to help convey a message or answer these questions.April 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm #371Dorothea KuntzeParticipant
I agree with all of the statements and reviews. After this movie ended I was overwhelmed with a feeling of confusion and dissatisfaction. The whole movie created tension between the family, but never revealed the reasoning. As for the plot, it was more a series on unanswered questions rather than a story line: What happened to their mother? Sadie and Georgia seemed close when they were younger (at s seen in the flashback to them singing as kids), but what caused a rift in their relationship? Was it jealousy? Why does Sadie hate her father? Why did Sadie start drinking and using drugs in the first place? Why is Sadie’s father so isolated? There was nothing that propelled the plot and if the film was a review on human nature and not centered on a story, there was no character development or insight to help convey a message or answer these questions.April 6, 2014 at 6:27 pm #372Daniell MartinezParticipant
This may be poor word choice but I find Hannah’s review so spot on as well as the commentary from Dorothea and Victoria. After watching this movie, I was in disbelief because I had so many unanswered questions which kept me confused. I was overwhelmed with the entire plot line. For one thing, I feel like we, as the audience, are thrown right into the middle of Sadie’s life when she is in the car with her Jasmine, i think that is his name, and we aren’t given any information about her besides drinking too much the night before and hence why the first scene made it look as if she were hungover. I couldn’t understand why she cried when her sister, Georgia sang, but for some reason, then I was able to see that Sadie could have been envious of her older sister. Georgia being a successful movie artist and mother in contrast to Sadie showed that they were on two different sides of the spectrum of success. Not to mention that their father only visits and stays in contact with Georgia so jealousy was inevitable. What I truly found distasteful about this film was the loud, bad singing. I understand that Sadie wanted to be a successful artist and maybe she is into the rock genre and the volume of her voice is elevated but I would have thought the director would have adjusted the volume for the viewers. To be blunt, the scenes of her singing were dreadful and nearly unbearable to watch. I was on the verge to cover my ears because I wasn’t expecting Sadie to sing like that. I don’t want my comment to be seen so negatively but it was difficult to find something I enjoyed. One good aspect of the film would have to be the acting. Sadie played her role to the fullest because I actually felt sympathetic towards her when she was going through withdrawals and her alcohol issues. Still, I am in bewilderment because I don’t understand why she relapsed and began to drink all over again. It was as if her experiences with her drug and alcohol abuse didn’t affect her because in the beginning of the movie when she first performed, she received a drink and said “thank you Conrad” and then the movie ends with a scene fairly similar showing that Sadie is going to continue to travel down the wrong road.April 7, 2014 at 6:01 pm #378Jo-Ann WongParticipant
Alas, I also have to agree with what everyone else has already said. I tried to like this movie as usually, I am a fan of both indie films and movies about the downward spiral of characters. However, while the movie tried to emulate this “genre,” I think it failed in its attempts. Instead, I think this movie became an example of bad screen-writing. Throwing in characters who come in for a minute and not having them reappear for an hour and expecting the audience to remember them is not a good way to garner any sympathy for them. What was the deal with John C. Reilly’s character(lacking so much character I cannot remember his name)? When he find out he died, due to the lack of creating sympathy for him, I felt nothing emotionally and was unable to understand Sadie’s “pain.” With Sadie, rather than creating a character with problems, she becomes the image of the spoiled child gone wrong. By the end, I could care less what happened to her as I could not understand where she was emotionally coming from. Also, the opening sequences were so randomly thrown together, with the past and present consistently switching for no apparent reason other than to create a jarring effect (which does not help the movie), that when the movie ended, I was still wondering who Trucker was and his relation to Sadie. Were they lovers? Was he an abuser? Was he famous? Apparently, everyone but the audience knew who he was. I can understand the director wanting to create a sense of a “slice-of-life” film, but the only result was me losing interest.
Also, I greatly disapprove of whoever did the sound editing of this film. Not everything has to be turned super-high, especially that excruciating unnecessary singing segment.
“Requiem for a Dream” is a much better movie about drug abuse instead of this one.
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