This month I posting old reviews of romance films that never made it to the site. This review comes from February 15, 2008. I initially called the movie “schizophrenic” and have decided, nine years later, that wasn’t the best choice #EndStigma.
Julie Taymor’s Beatles movie musical “Across the Universe” has multiple personalities. At one point you’re watching a drama–then a music video–then an art piece–then an actual stage musical–then a raging acid trip–and back to a drama again. The good news is the film leaves you with its strongest form: drama musical, and it leaves you feeling good.
The music is awesome. The arrangements of these Beatles songs are great, modern and given beautiful, fresh voices. It’s a definite soundtrack buy. The only problem is that sometimes the songs are portrayed in the film in ways that don’t work or that simply detract from what the viewer really wants to see and cares most about — the characters, specifically Jude (Jim Sturgess) and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) and their relationship. It gets cheated a lot in the film for characters that really don’t matter in the end, yet we still care about them, so I guess that’s what matters most.
Basically, everything except the really “out there” musical-like sequences and the psychedelic scenes works. It’s a constant guessing game as to which you’re going to get with each song. The film can go for 20 minutes or so as a drama musical and then all of a sudden you get a scene like when Max (Lucy’s brother played by Joe Anderson) goes to the army and there are dancing recruitment officers with abstract faces. Other scenes, such as “Strawberry Fields,” give a very emotional music video type feel that contrasts Jude’s art with scenes of the Vietnam War. It is awesome and beautifully done by Taymor.
“Across the Universe” only suffers in this inconsistency. It could also use about 30 minutes shaved off. Otherwise it is a truly heartfelt love story with some of the best music of the 20th century. Fortunately, in the end, its best stuff comes out on top and leaves you with a generally if not overwhelmingly satisfying feeling. Without the excellent ending, you’d be left wondering what exactly the movie was trying to be. I’m still wondering just a bit, but I’m content with the general outcome.
Across the Universe (2007)
Directed by Julie Taymor
Written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, Julie Taymor (story)
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson