Reds (1981)

PG   |    |  Biography, Drama, History

Reds (1981) Poster

A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia, and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States.

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  • Reds (1981)
  • Warren Beatty and Vittorio Storaro in Reds (1981)
  • Reds (1981)
  • Warren Beatty in Reds (1981)
  • Jack Nicholson in Reds (1981)
  • Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty in Reds (1981)

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5 January 2017 | moonspinner55
| "Voting is the opium of the masses in this country. Every four years you deaden the pain."
A personal triumph for co-writer-producer-director-star Warren Beatty, who won the Oscar for his direction and gives a cautious, interesting performance as early-1900s American journalist John Reed, who shared a tumultuous courtship and marriage to Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton), a socialite and self-described writer. Reed, a radical political activist, became intrigued with the Communist teachings of Russia and, with Bryant, defended the Bolsheviks and opposed American intervention. Their acquaintances, a community of activists and artists, included anarchist Emma Goldman (masterfully played by Oscar-winner Maureen Stapleton) and playwright Eugene O'Neill (Jack Nicholson), who also had a passionate affair with Bryant (one "guest witness" speculates the Reed-Bryant marriage was actually a menage a trois that included O'Neill). Beatty's film is too long at 195 minutes--and is far better in its early stages, so momentum tends to decrease as the story progresses--however, its an actors' paradise and everyone brings something special to the fore. Keaton's chattering sometimes feels anachronistic ("yeah, yeah...uh-huh, uh-huh"), but she works the camera mercilessly with her big, enchanting smile (to knock us dead) and sad, questioning stare. Keaton manages to translate her innermost thoughts into expressions, and her penetrating scenes with Nicholson are quietly-charged and fascinating, although her romance with Beatty's Reed feels somewhat muffled. Beatty, content to let his co-stars shine, has chosen to remain reserved; some may applaud the performance as successfully subtle, yet he might have shown us a bit more of his own personality (it would help in a three-hour-plus movie such as this). The epic-sized "Reds" is a strange melodrama, at times, and an overachiever, but with surprising humor in the mix and the fire of determination at its core. **1/2 from ****

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