Sunday, February 3, 2013

Crimes of the Heart Redux

Some time ago I wrote about going to see a production of the play Crimes of the Heart, which I ended by saying that I enjoyed it so much I was considering watching the movie version. Well, more recently, I did that and was severely disappointed.

The movie version of Crimes of the Heart has the same basic plot as the play, focusing on the lives of the three Magrath sisters who are all home at their grandfather's Mississippi house while facing different crises - Lenny has just turned 30 and doesn't feel like she's done anything with her life (I can relate), Meg is trying to make it big as a singer (I cannot relate), and Babe has just calmly shot her husband (I definitely can't relate!). Despite having the same broad plot as the play and largely similar dialogue, the movie just fell flat in my opinion.

For starters, somehow the movie managed to lack the dark humor of the play and felt far more melodramatic instead. I don't know how, given that some of the lines were exactly the same as those in the theater production, but they no longer came across as funny. It might have been the delivery or it could have been that I was watching this alone rather than in a crowded theater with a laughing audience. I'm inclined to think it was the former, as I didn't really care for any of the acting in this version, especially Diane Keaton who overacts (I almost want to say as per usual) in her role as Lenny. Indeed, nearly all of the actors seemed to be merely reading lines with a Southern accent more than truly embodying the characters. And, this is a bit more of a superficial complaint, but the main roles all appeared to be played by women older than the characters were meant to be.

Another reason I think there was less humor in the movie was that the role of Zackery Botrelle was greatly reduced as compared to the play. Mr. Botrelle, who is Babe's lawyer, had a huge vendetta against Babe's husband in the play but not at all in the movie. In the theater production, there was also a growing chemistry between Zackery Botrelle and Babe, which added tons of comedy to the play, but again this was hardly seen in the movie version.

As with most plays, there wasn't a ton of movement of the stage when I saw it, although the vivid characterizations and zany scenarios more than made up for that. In the movie, the director seemed to be trying to overcompensate for the relatively flat staging with fancy filming angles, showing flashbacks, and so forth. But this really did little in the end but be distracting and didn't help the fact that the characters were just not compelling enough in this production.

Unfortunately, while I loved the play, I just didn't like the movie; I can't even come up with any redeeming qualities to the film version. Uninspired acting and filming can leave even the best source material feeling dull and lifeless. However, the movie apparently received good buzz when it came out back in 1986 and was even nominated for several awards. So maybe the saying "everyone's a critic" isn't true after all. Maybe I'm the only critical one.

What are your thoughts? Have you seen the movie version of Crimes of the Heart and did you think it was phenomenal or horrendous?

No comments:

Post a Comment