Monday, February 18, 2008

Across the Universe *1/2

Director: Julie Taymor
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson
Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther, T.V. Carpio

Julie Taymor lets you down in this overblown cornucopia of visuals, the Fab Four and faux political statements dressed in film clothes.
Jude (Sturgess) is a Liverpool dock worker who leaves home to find his dad who works in Princeton.
Max (Anderson) is a WASPy type who despises his wealth and drops out of college to take the bohemian life.
His sister Lucy (Wood) has just graduated from high school and lost her boyfriend in Vietnam.
Prudence (Carpio) is a young lesbian who develops a new crush in every scene, but seems to have trouble coming to terms with her sexuality.
Before you can say Yoko Ono, all of these people have come together to live in a Greenwich Village apartment where they go through civil uprisings, war and heartbreak.
Lucy falls for Jude, Max gets drafted and Prudence develops an infatuation over Sadie (Fuchs) a Janis Joplin inspired crooner who was inserted into the plot to play voice for JoJo's (Luther) Hendriz-esque guitar.
Done specifically to play "spot the reference" with fans of The Beatles, the plot revolves around their songs and what moment and visual statement Taymor finds appropriate for each of them.
While you get an inkling that the film was trying to remind us of the timelessness of the songs and the parallels we can draw between the 60s and this decade, the point gets lost or muffled under the images and sounds.
None of the characters get believable emotional archs. You wonder where did all of Lucy's grief go and why does she fall in love with a British womanizer who apparently couldn't care less about his father's rejection.
But when you're beginning to take notice of the obnoxious shallowness of the film, Taymor throws another unnecessary musical number at you.
Just when everything seems as if it's "borrowed" enough from "Moulin Rouge!"'s aestehtics and The Beatles' songs, the film comes and delivers its supposed universal message of how to fix everything: all you need is love.
While the characters sing that and we reflect on how they never seemed to have been affected by anything that occured to them and all they care about is behaving like irresponsible hippies with empty agendas, we sadly realize that nothing's gonna change their world.

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