RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
* Select Screen Commentary
* Making Of
The first Merchant/Ivory production since the death of Ismail Merchant stars Anthony Hopkins and is about rich white people.
Anthony Hopkins, Laura Linney, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Omar Metwally. Directed by: James Ivory
Omar (Omar Metwally) is writing a biography of a dead author. In order to get it authorized, he travels to Uruguay to convince the dead writer’s family he has good intentions. The family is made up of three trustees, the brother (Anthony Hopkins), the wife (Laura Linney), and the mistress (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Omar stays with the family in their cottage and causes some blink or you’ll miss it sexual tension. And someone loses a shoe. Exciting stuff. Really, epic stuff.
Eddie Izzard has a great bit comparing British movies to their American remakes. The British movie is about a guy arranging matches in a small room and the remake has space monkeys and babies on spikes. The City of Your Final Destination is the movie about a guy arranging matches. It’s two sludgy hours of people talking about being polite and walking around in a garden. It’s got an international cast, is directed by an American, and it takes place in Uruguay, but this film is pure stuffy boring English lit drama. The kind I kind of thought they didn’t make anymore, or at least give to Joe Wright. The kind of film where a minor bee sting passes for serious suspense. At least in My Girl they kill a motherfucker with a bee sting, here it mostly causes people to be impolite for a moment.
“It’s okay, these are only genetically engineered flesh eating bees.”
Not to bag on the Merchant/Ivory filmography. Room With a View, Howards End, and The Remains of the Day are reason enough for the whole stuffy genre to exist. But The City of Your Final Destination is not those films. Even the Kate Hudson movie they made is better than this. The entire plot hangs on the signing of a document and it’s less exciting than it sounds. It falls under it’s own dull weight right away. Most of the dialogue takes place in what I’m guessing you’d call a drawing room as the family gathers to discuss the important matters of the day, whilst the guest entertains himself in the garden. So much drama with old rich white people. Must discuss personal matters whilst the guest is away. Keep that pinky up! Make sure to have visually pleasing biscuits with tea . This is the kind of movie where Anthony Hopkins doesn’t take a bath, he has someone draw him his bath. It makes me want to say ‘whilst’. Which I don’t think anyone actually says, but they would in the American remake.
This boring pile is pretty and, for the most part, well acted. Javier Aguirresarobe does a fantastic job making familiar sets interesting. Anthony Hopkins is absorbing and as good as he always is when he doesn’t give a shit. But the credits tell you that. Hopkins always brings what he brings and it’s good (enough), and even the Twilight series couldn’t get an ugly film out of Aguirresarobe. Hiring master craftsman is always the good obvious choice, but it won’t make a difference if the director is determined to make bad choices. This is a filmmaker who has lost it. Age and the tragic loss of his filmmaking/life partner have undoubtedly taken a lot out of Ivory. The film is awkward and wrong, the work of a director out of sync.
Although my desire to play Bejeweled on my iPhone was stronger than the narrative I stayed with it, trying to play the much more entertaining American remake in my head. First thing we do, sack Omar Metwally. He’s an awful actor and America is scared of people named Omar. We get Chris Rock and pair him with Hopkins. Bad Company chemistry is already built in. America loves Bad Company. Laura Linney has to go and Katherine Heigl’s in. Charlotte Gainsbourg can stay, but she has to get naked. It’s not about publishing a book anymore, instead Chris Rock plays a low level gangster who needs to get Hopkins on a plane by midnight or else. Josh Lucas plays Hopkins’ lover, only instead of his lover he is his son. An FBI agent son forced to make a choice. His father or his job. And he’s chasing Rock/Hopkins with his new partner, Katherine Heigl. Someone gets pregnant. Shawn Levy directing. Yeah, your mom would love it.
Besides about 20 minutes of trailers before the film, we get 25 minutes of select screen commentary from James Ivory and a 20 minute making of. Nothing but pointless fluff and boring production trivia. But at least the commentary is sparse, no one wants to listen to an 82 year old man talk for two hours.