I adore the work of Steven Spielberg, and I know it’s cliché to say that, because he’s ‘overrated’ and blah, blah, blah… But he is so good at what he does! And this film serves as a showcase for him, but also for Tom Hanks, and especially for the absolutely amazing Mark Rylance. This movie may not be incredibly new or ground-breaking, but it is exciting and serves as a nice drama that sticks with you after watching. And it looks nice and it sounds nice and it entertains well. But where this film seems to falter is at the dull way it treats its smaller characters with every character (except for Hanks and Rylance) being overlooked and brushed aside by a mildly boring screenplay.
Tom Hanks is great in the film, because he’s great in pretty much everything, and that’s absolutely what you would expect. Hanks uses this film to showcase his attention to detail, screen-capturing character-work, and powerful acting chops. In opposition to some of his other work however, this character seems to lack the grounding and realism that many of his other characters have. It’s a little hard to root for him when there is nothing that drives his character except for the plot. In other words: he lacks something in this movie. On the topic of lacking, Mark Rylance takes his very mysterious character and through the lack of back-story we get on him creates a mystic and enthralling character. Rylance defines nuance as he cleverly uses the character’s lack of dialogue to make every moment of his screentime into an interesting and almost-frightening character study that really features as the fire in this movie. On that note: I know Sylvester Stallone was the favorite for the Oscar, but damn do I think Rylance deserved it.
The film’s screenplay throws away every other character in the movie, so there’s not a whole lot to say about them. The screenplay does very well with Hanks’ and Rylance’s characters, but it doesn’t put in the effort to truly capture the remaining characters in a realistic and interesting way. But what it does with the story and with the pacing of the story is incredible, and especially the last ten minutes is especially beautiful and chill-inducing. And with such accomplished screenwriters like the Coen brothers that is exactly what you would expect. This film also introduces Matt Charman in the screenwriting industry, he’s probably one to keep the look-out for.
The direction too is clever and unique and creates some powerful images and shots that bring forth the plots and characters and this is only strengthened by the simple but strong cinematography. The cinematography, by Janusz Kaminski, is really good in this film and it almost takes on a life of its own as it defines the scene and sets the mood. But other than looking wonderful, the film also sounds splendid, the soundtrack by Thomas Newman is absolutely splendid and really brings out the best in the film by perfectly underscoring the film and its themes. Newman is especially wonderful in the more thrilling pieces, especially the piece of music driving Hanks’ dramatic bike ride through Berlin.
So this movie may not be absolutely groundbreaking, new or anything else. But it captures the time period perfectly and both looks and sounds brilliant. The direction too is great and just serves as yet another showcase for Steven Spielberg’s attention to character and setting. But the real show-stealer is Mark Rylance and his brilliantly nuanced performance that uses its lack of dialogue and back-story to its advantage rather than the other way around.
Best Aspect- Mark Rylance
Worst Aspect- Lack of other characters