Rating: Four 1/2 of Five Stars.
Directed by Warren Beatty.
Written by Warren Beatty and Trevor Griffiths.
Starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Maureen Stapleton.
That Warren Beatty could sell a communist protagonist to the American public in 1981 speaks volumes as to the quality of this movie and the masterful skill of its director/writer/star.
The movie follows the true story of Jack Reed and Louise Bryant, a pair of American journalists whose experiences covering the Russian Revolution inspire them to join the socialist movement in their homeland.
Beatty is exceptional in his portrayal of Reed, bringing an undeniable charisma to the role. His real-life relationship with Diane Keaton lends tremendous chemistry to their on-screen relationship, and Keaton is wonderful in her own right, despite playing a character I personally found less than likable.
Jack Nicholson brings his usual intensity to the role of playwright Eugene O’Neill, a love interest of Bryant’s. I know nothing of O’Neill’s real life personality, but the Nicholson character feels like he could snap at any moment.
The film frequently transitions from dramatic reenactment to documentary-style interviews, which I personally found awkward. Though many of the interviews provide quality information, they break up the natural flow of the film and drag it out to an insane 3 hours and 15 minutes.
This type of period piece is what Hollywood needs more of. I, like most people these days, lean more towards fantasy, science fiction, and epic mythological productions in the wheelhouse of Marvel, DC, Harry Potter, etc. However, quality directors and writers like Beatty, James Cameron, Ron Howard, etc. have a unique power and opportunity to educate the modern film-goer on these crucial time periods in the guise of entertainment.
Overall the movie will undoubtedly live on as a classic in the epic genre, but should have left a lot more on the cutting room floor.
Best Supporting Actress: Maureen Stapleton
Best Cinematography: Vittorio Storaro
Best Director: Warren Beatty
Best Actor: Warren Beatty
Best Supporting Actor: Jack Nicholson
Best Actress: Diane Keaton
Best Art Direction: Richard Sylbert, Michael Seirton
Best Costume Design: Shirley Ann Russell
Best Film Editing: Dede Allen, Craig McKay
Best Sound: Dick Vorisek, Tom Fleischman, Simon Kaye
Best Original Screenplay: Warren Beatty, Trevor Griffiths