Terrence Malick. I am familiar with the name, but not so familiar with his work. As I don’t have the mental calibration for highly artistic movies, I have a hard time wanting to see them. But I’m always down for anything with Christian Bale. I wasn’t sure what to make of the movie, but it was the final movie of the week that I needed to see, so I gave it a shot. This my honest opinion of KNIGHT OF CUPS.
Rick (Christian Bale) is a successful writer in Hollywood and enjoys several perks of his upper class life-style. But as strange events happen around him, he reflects on his past relationships, the tragic loss of one of his brothers, and to make sense of his life as a whole.
It’s not bad. Never in my life have I seen such a senseless, yet marinated in heightened-sense movie. Alright, so like I said, this is an art-house project. I think the genre is called “experimental.” Defined as (by Wikipedia): “…a mode of filmmaking that rigorously re-evaluates cinematic conventions and explores non-narrative forms and alternatives to traditional narratives or methods of working.” Yeah, there’s my discount dollar store research into the genre. But to a caveman film-goer like myself, it’s an artsy-fartsy movie.
But it this a bad thing? Eh… not really, but that doesn’t mean that it’s all that great. It’s kind of funny because I left the movie basically saying that I liked it, which may come as a confusing statement to a co-worker and friend whom I told I liked it. Well, it’s been awhile now and I’ve had adequate time to let this thing sink in and to proper convey how I feel about it.
Let’s start with what I liked. The protagonist of the story is Rick and his reflection of his past interactions with women he’s loved to his family, what I noticed is that Rick doesn’t emote, or really react to the character he’s interacting with. If interpretation was the goal, mine would be that this is because he’s legitimately trying to learn from those experiences and remaining objective as he’s remembering. Through the voice over work of the women he’s with and the emotions they’re dishing out, we learn what their relationship was about and why it ended. Very little dialog is ever traded between the characters on screen. At least, nothing really heard, but you feel every inch of the emotions being conveyed. From the love, the lust, the anger, the frustration, everything. That was pretty interesting to watch.
But honestly… that’s about all that I liked. I’m trying really hard to find something else that I liked and… I just can’t think of anything else.
One of my bigger gripes was that Bale’s back… in fact, almost every character’s back, is constantly facing the camera. Maybe I’m spoiled on my stage acting, but backs to the audience (or camera, in this case) of this magnitude is a big no no for me. I didn’t even know this was something I didn’t like!
And as much as I liked the reflective take of not showing emotion during interactions, there are still a few scenes where he does. But why? Are these taking place during the present? Are these memories just so intense that he has to remember his emotional reactions too? That’s make a little sense if it was consistent with his romances as well. Fine if one relationship wasn’t as interesting as the other, but show some emotion when we get to the big ones that got away and meant something. I won’t say he doesn’t at all, but it just feels a tad random I guess.
Also, some of the dialog is incredibly pretentious. “What’s your address?” “Why do you want to know?” “Because I want to write you a letter.” “What will you say in the letter?”
It’d be one thing if the dialog was just bad, like the Star Wars prequels. When their lines are spouted, a person could get a giggle out of it. When it’s pretentious though, it just hurts your brain. People don’t talk like this. People say stupid things all the time, but how many people do you know try to talk like they’re a higher life-form? Alright, maybe a few, but stupid things are said more frequently than pretentious things.
At the end of the story, I’m not sure what the end goal of the movie was. I know this is supposed to be a philosophical take on romance and other things, but… philosophy, almost by nature, is something that can be argued. In order to argue, I have to know what the argument is and… man, it’s not clearly said. Or, in all probability, the argument is so ungodly complicated that even if I had an argument against whatever they were arguing, it goes so far over my head that I can’t argue… in short, I’m not smart enough to argue. Kind of like someone who solves a calculus problem in front of me, but I ante up by saying, “two plus two equals fish (if you don’t know this reference, I will throw a fish at you)!” We’re just on two different wave-lengths.
It’s actually pretty hard for me to talk about this one because I just don’t have enough experience in “experimental” films, or possibly the proper mental capacity to comprehend them. In either case, it can’t be denied that this is a pretty unique film compared to everything else that gets released every week. Whether or not it sticks with you if entirely for you to decide. I liked certain ideas in the movie, but for the most part, I guess it’s just not my cup of tea.
My honest rating: 3/5