Collaborating with novelist Paul Auster, director Wayne Wang (Chan Is Missing, The Joy Luck Club) takes his camera to Brooklyn, where seemingly unrelated incidents and chance meetings end up affecting the lives of several people, even linking their destinies.
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The only thing not phony about this film is the acting of Harvey Keitel and William Hurt, who did well to overcome the pretentious dialogue.
Another good thing----the awful over acting Ashley Judd only had one scene.
Terrific ensemble cast facing a difficult challenge: How to develop a real character when screen time is split between so many different people? I'm not sure if I've seen this accomplished better than in this film.
I can't believe how bad this film is considering. It really creaked and in parts became unintentionally funny and then just plain boring. I even found myself staring at Hurt and thinking "nice leather jacket. I wonder where I could get a jacket like that" and "doesn't he look a bit like Ryan Gosling" and then I realised the film was finishing but - oh right- it doesn't.. it does the last scene again in mime.
Auster's New York, or Faulkner's South? Storytelling, fathers and sons, meandering tone. All that works. What doesn't work is that these tropes are extended beyond what the film can manage. There's a Great White Father, it's not even on the Bechdel test radar, and it features a blind "mammy." The small stories and wry moments are sacrificed to navel-gazing-- and the gaze is very, very familiar.
A glimpse at a corner of NYC by way of characters chance-encountering one another &helping each other out. As if they get it that they're all connected - which they turn out to be by way of the film's story (+ much real talk by Paul Auster "If it happens it happens, if it doesn't it doesn't. You never know what's going to happen next, and when you think you do - that's the moment you don't know a god damn thing")