A Hidden Life

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The meandering Malick strikes again! His style of filmmaking is so frustrating. He shoots things so beautifully (shout-out to cinematographer Jorg Wildmer), but it takes him forever to tell a story. Seriously…three hours??!! I don’t care how gorgeous the Austrian Alps are … I’ll watch The Sound of Music again. Why is he spending so much time on shots of rivers flowing or birds chirping, and taking so long to get the story going? Malick is content to have long scenes where characters daydream off into space, looking at the clouds. Now, pretentious film critics will tell you this is art and lovely filmmaking. It’s not. Long stretches of silence, remind me of…well, Silence, the long, boring movie Scorsese gave us a few years ago. Why is it he, Tarantino, and these guys, just think they can make such long movies and they won’t bore us to tears?

And it doesn’t work if you like just a few aspects of a movie. Sure, it’s shot wonderfully, and there’s a lovely score by James Newton Howard. But so what? I sometimes hear a new song on the radio and I think…this is awful. Yet it might have a great beat, or a cool guitar riff. That hardly makes it a great song. All the pieces have to fit together, and with Malick movies, they never do. I’ll never forget what Sean Penn said after Tree of Life (which might be one of the most overrated movies ever made). He said, “I didn’t understand it. I had no clue what was going on, and I was in the damn thing!”

This is a biographical story set in Austria, about a well-known conscientious objector named Franz Jagerslatter (August Diehl). It was a bit confusing when he is first called up for military training, and is soon back home at the farm, frolicking in the meadows with his wife (a scene Malick often has in his films). 

His wife Franziska (Valerie Pachner) wants him to go along with the Nazis, thinking it will make things easier. Instead, just like in the Mel Gibson movie with a similar theme (which was also problematic, but for different reasons), things get worse.

This movie gets repetitive, and too many scenes are unnecessary and add absolutely nothing.

This film is only for college film students that want to feel like appreciating Malick movies makes them deep, who don’t mind spending 173 minutes listening to birds chirps and clouds fly by. 

1 ½ stars out of 5.




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