Ostlund has a keen ear for dialogue and a perfect grasp of the push-and-pull rhythms of an imploding relationship, the myriad ways in which couples can hit each other’s buttons.
An accumulation of dread in search of a properly fleshed-out screenplay to sustain it, the film plays like a show reel for writer-director Nicholas McCarthy’s considerable craft.
For every scene that soars into the dizzying heights of the pop sublime, there’s another that crashes back down into the mundane troughs of studio-mandated formula.
Luc Besson lacks the intellectual rigor to successfully realize the ambition evident in the metaphysical third act, but it’s still exhilarating to watch him try.
This one begins like a pleasantly hazy post-pubescent fever dream.
It feels like a giant copout, boiling an entire culture down to repetitive pastiche on its way to that glittering homogeneous fantasyland of sports-movie magic.
Patrick Stewart’s performance is practically an argument for Stephen Belber to take the actor on the road as a one-man spoken-word act.
It labors under the illusion that Sub Pop memorabilia is adequate substitute for the honest evocation of a creative subculture and the personalities of which it’s composed.
A cleverly written dissection of a co-dependent friendship being gradually eroded by the incremental ravages of age.
What Lumet or Cassavetes often showed with a look, an image, a movement, Canet chooses to tell, and often at length, with the most heavy-handed dialogue imaginable.
Its horrors reach back to the primordial fear of death and loss: of a child, of a loved one, of one’s own sense of self.
For all its references to the show’s history, the film never panders. It’s an evolution of the core concept as opposed to a nostalgia-tinged reproduction, and is all the better for it.
The film plays for much of its length like a terrible sketch comedy with one-dimensional caricatures shuffling listlessly through a succession of stilted tableaux.
The material plays out like a particularly busy episode of Sons of Anarchy, possessing a peculiar joylessness that’s anathema to the success of films like this.
The film is depressing, sub-sitcom fodder that will dull whatever affection you may still harbor for these legendary actors.
It fails as a critique of draconian security states and surveillance culture, moving too fast to properly consider any of the well-worn ideas it glosses over.
From the opening montage alone, it’s clear that Kieran Darcy-Smith plans to play his cards close to the vest in this maddeningly underwritten thriller/domestic-drama hybrid.
There’s nothing behind all this sturm und drang but a lineup of insubstantial ciphers, all false fronts and empty words in a pretend world not quite conducive to emotional investment.
There’s plenty of gore, but none of it is particularly inventive, nor does it engender any visceral or emotional reactions beyond jaded disgust.
As far as high concepts go, it’s a great one.