While on a train, a teenage boy thinks about his life and the flamboyant aunt whose friendship acted as an emotional shield from his troubled family. This film evokes the haunting quality of memory while creating a heartfelt portrait of a boy’s life in a rural 1940s Southern town.
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Using the same highly impressionistic approach of his first two films, Davies creates a rich and often disturbing evocation of a specific time and place, exaggerated as a subjective recollection of his central character. The narrative, fractured into a series of significant events, is carried along by the power of the images (in contrast with the text), and Davies' always remarkable use of sound(s) and music.
Not the perfection of his previous two efforts but Davies still works wonders out of his element and with what appears to have been a much smaller budget. There are moments of brilliance here, an art film in award-baiting clothes. A lot to love.
Beautifully assimilated influences from a wide range of American painters. If there were a way to turn the dialogue off and just have the music and the poetic ambient sounds it might be a much richer experience. The odd, deadpan acting would then fit with being static figures in a painting. I wonder if it was an influence on 'Shirley, Visions of Reality'. I enjoyed the stageyness and almost 80s postmodern aesthetic.
I hadn't see a Davies movie before, so my review can't compare this to his general oeuvre. With that said, I found the general mise en scene eye-popping, especially the way that he tracks time changes using a moving camera and the exquisite framing of each scene. The music was clever (I loved the Gone With the Wind reference). The story itself was too slight but I still enjoyed the ride due to the visual artistry.
Some unfortunate sentimentality and cheesy dialogue/performances keep this from being a great Davies, but it had me weeping at the end so there's probably something there...
Like that this (and a lot Davies' work tbh) is a movie about the magic of movies that never preaches that notion literally. Movies are memory!
I count myself as a Davies fan but this is really not very good. I'm not familiar with the source material but even the author didn't think much of it.
The movie feels like a minor work of Tennessee Williams and it's not helped by the prevalence of Southern cliches in character and setting.
To be blunt it was a chore to get through this at just over 90 minutes.
I don't want to be too hard on a film that the director himself admits "doesn't work," but...this film is awful! The story (if it has one) never fully shapes, and the characters never evolve beyond Southern drama stereotypes. The scene transitions are awkward and confusing, the shot compositions are often bizarre, and the emphasis on Americana and Christian imagery amounts to nothing. It's just a rambling mess.