Friday, October 12, 2012
MARY: ABEL FERRARA'S MISUNDERSTOOD MASTERPIECE
It’s understandable that Mary would be misunderstood by the few people who’ve seen it. The film is a bit chaotic, the editing and transitions from one scene to the next are abrupt from time to time, there isn't much insight or depth in to why Juliette Binoche's character suddenly has a breakdown, there’s an explosion scene that looks totally fake due to the bad CGI effect explosion and Matthew Modine's performance isn't very good in my opinion (I've never really been a fan outside of Married To The Mob). Additionally, Whitaker and Graham playing husband & wife also seemed a little…I dunno what the term is, but it’s like he was trying too hard to show an interracial couple on screen where race isn’t the issue. But on the flipside, that is a somewhat progressive (and realistic) representation of many married couples today. Plus there wasn’t a whole lot of chemistry between Whitaker & Graham (at no fault of Whitaker’s). Maybe that was the problem – I just can’t imagine those two together in real life. Religion on film (especially Catholicism & Christianity) can turn people off pretty easily (and like I already said; Abel Ferrara can be a bit heavy handed with the religion stuff). But I appreciate Ferrara’s honest & genuine attempt at trying to do something different. Plus the score is really good and goes with the film well. Given the plot, along with the year it was released (one year after The Passion) many people thought he was just trying to ride the coattails of The Passion when in fact he was just trying to address it which is something he (and any other filmmaker) has every right to do. It’s just unclear whether or not Ferrara was being critical of Gibson or supporting his right to make The Passion. Even Ferrara's motives and mission behind Mary seemed unclear. In the film, Modine's character is somewhat of a megalomaniac who only cares about the hype & publicity around his new movie while on the other hand he becomes a martyr for free expression by the end (it ends with a bomb threat being called in at the premier of the movie and Modine refuses to leave). A movie like The Passion Of The Christ, which isn't good, along with the motivation behind it is gonna bring things outta people whether they like it or think it’s stupid. Given that Abel Ferrara is clearly a strong Catholic, I imagine he felt the need to make this. What I’m about to say is going to make no sense but this is his most flawed film yet at the same time one of his best films since The Funeral (a criminally underrated mob film featuring Chris Penn in his greatest performance). This is a long overdue write-up (which explains why it’s a bit long). If you remember my review of Go-Go Tales from early 2011, Anthology Film Archives did a great retrospective on Abel Ferrara’s work from the last decade, which were films that most Americans had yet to see. I’d say Mary was the best out of the bunch.