Southland Tales Review
We waited three years for this?
Southland Tales is the long awaited and continuously delayed second feature for Richard Kelly. This is the same man who connected with a generation full of maladjusted and disinterested teens with his first film, Donnie Darko. After a disastrous Medellin like run at Cannes, Mr. Kelly decided to make some cuts to the film, as it was shortened from almost three hours to two hours and 24 minutes. After watching this contrived and disaster of a movie, I am absolutely terrified of seeing of what Mr. Kelly felt not worthy of or necessary for this film.
Southland Tales is full of ineffectively bizarre moments and story so gratuitously complex that after a while you become bored with even trying to follow along. The film deals with WWIII, time travel, a government conspiracy to control an upcoming election, a neo-Marxist movement helped run by a porno director and assisted by a porn star, the apocalypse, and all of this is connected to a action film star with amnesia and disgraced police office with a twin brother. In between trying to connect all the unnecessary dots, there are plenty of weird moments that add nothing to the plot, only to the confusion of the viewer. The scene where the film’s hero is reunited with his wife is clearly going for an over the top soap opera feel, which it achieves. But what is the point? The scene is just another pointlessly silly moment that doesn’t add any real content or drama to the film.
However, while Mr. Kelly might not know when to say when, he does show he is still excellent at incorporating entertaining music video like moments in his films; scene’s consisting of long takes, where the actors perform perfectly choreographed activities, set to hypnotic music. In fact, all the slow motion moments set to music in the film are entertaining and well done. Unfortunately, they only make up about six minutes of the film’s one hundred and forty four minute running time.
I remember when the cast for this film was first announced and everyone was wondering what Mr. Kelly was thinking. The film’s hero to be played by the Rock? An actor who lives in the action genre and has never shown any kind of range of talent to suggest he could pull off a man suffering from amnesia who believes he wrote the screenplay that accurately tells the end of the world. I understand that the Rock looks the part since he is playing an action star in the film, but there are plenty of talented muscular actors in Hollywood these days that would have been much more capable of the role. The Rock fumbles through all of the moments in the film that require actual acting, occasionally bumbling with his fingers much like an eight year old would if someone told them to act nervous. The other two leads are played by Sean William Scott and Sarah Michelle Gellar, both say their lines correctly but that is about all they do. Why would Mr. Kelly have his three leads played by a mediocre action star, a smart ass comedic actor and a woman pretty much forgotten about by the cinematic community because of her inability to do anything substantial on the screen? Perhaps because all the other actors that were possibly offered the roles read the screenplay and realized no good could come from starring in this train wreck of a film.
Southland Tales feels like Mr. Kelly wrote down every idea he ever had for a movie in trying to think up his next film and then just decided to make a movie about all of them; it is a mumbled mess of a film that will only serve to irritate and not entertain the viewer.
Click here for the trailer.