Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Movie Review: "Tess" (1980)

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Oscar Movie: "Tess"
Year Nominated: 1980
Director: Roman Polanski
Rating: PG
Running Time: 3 hours and 6 minutes (WTF)
Did It Win?: No

Based on the novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Tess (Nastassja Kinski) is a poor peasant girl whose family finds out they have noble lineage. Upon discovering this, her father sends her to work with a distant cousin in order to claim kinship. Alec, Tess's wealthy "cousin," has actually purchased his name in order to receive stature within the community and abroad. He becomes infatuated with Tess, eventually raping her, leaving her pregnant. Tess leaves after this incident, keeping most of these events a secret, though eventually her child falls ill and dies.

Some time later, Tess works as a milkmaid and falls in love with a man named Angel, who comes from a strict religious family. The two get married and it is only after their union that Tess reveals her secret to her new husband. Angel shuns Tess, leaving her alone while he travels to South America. In this time, Tess and Alec are reunited, though she is not interested in him. He promises her and her family a better life after her father dies if she would just be with him. She reluctantly becomes his mistress with Angel nowhere to be found. Eventually, Angel does return, though in poor health, and Tess is forced to choose between the two men.

What a misery! This movie is long, so long that it should be illegal to make movies this long if they are this slowly paced. It FEELS long because it IS long.

Though this story has its moments that are somewhat compelling, the poor pacing and time period in which it takes place makes a 3-hour movie seem like a 6-hour one. We have happily sat through other notoriously long movies, such as "Gone With The Wind," "Apocalypse Now Redux," and "The Godfather," which don't feel as long as they are because their stories are much more compelling.

The most interesting part of this movie is the last 10 minutes, but it takes so long to get to that point that we ended up not really caring because we were so damn bored. The movie could have been more interesting if it had been 2 hours long; there is a lot of story to go through, but a lot of it doesn't drive the plot of the film.

As an aside, we're not going to get into the whole Roman Polanski thing too terribly much, but I want to say my piece. He might make great cinematic and brilliant pieces of art, but that doesn't take away from the things that he did in his personal life that are, to me, abhorrently wrong and downright creepy. But, Hollywood is very forgiving, and plenty of actors and actresses want to work with him, regardless of the fact that he can't leave France. It's still messed up, no matter how you look at it. It's an odd series of events, that he had a relationship with the star of this movie, yet dedicated it to his late wife (who loved the book and wanted him to turn it into a movie), and then had a whole mess of troubles so closely mirroring those of this film. Coincidence? Who knows. It doesn't take away from the fact that this movie is too long and pretty boring.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Review: 81%
Do we recommend the film: No. (People who have read the novel may enjoy it, though)

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. I've wanted to read the book and see this movie for a long time, and still intend to one of these days.