21 March 2015 | TheLittleSongbird
Very well made and moving film if at times uneven
Fugitive Pieces had a fair bit to live up to. There is a great deal of talent in the cast and the book is incredible, one of the best I've ever read actually. The film may lack the emotional punch and dramatic thrust that the book had but neither does it disgrace it. The book is a very difficult one to adapt(almost unfilmable actually) and the film did so laudably, any film or series that tries to adapt difficult to adapt should be applauded for trying even if they don't entirely succeed.
The film does get too wordy at times, the narration is well written and sticks quite faithfully to the tone of the prose of the book but does over-explain too and takes one out of the film, this was a case of the film benefiting more by more show and less tell, as well as having a jumpy nature. The scenes where Jakob is an adult don't make the same impact of the scenes where he is a child, some of the scenes drag with the scenes between Jakob and Alex coming over as a little dull and flatly written(though well acted by Stephen Dillane and Rosamund Pike), and the narrative structure can be a bit jumpy and confused. And the alternate ending didn't work for me with that of the book being much more tonally fitting and powerful, the film's less downbeat one felt out of kilter and abrupt in how it deals with the characters' fates, almost like the writers weren't sure how to end it.
Fugitive Pieces on the other hand is very well made, it's gorgeously shot and the scenery and such are evocatively done, especially in the scenes with Jakob as a child. The music score is suitably elegiac, the direction is appropriately nuanced and although uneven the script has some truly memorable lines and in keeping with the stoic and sombre if very poetic nature of the book. The story's also uneven but mostly effectively paced and while I said that the book had more emotional punch and dramatic thrust that doesn't mean that the film is devoid of those qualities, the war scenes with Jakob as a child are incredibly harrowing and poignant. The acting is very good from all involved with the most impressive being Robbie Kay in one of the best child performances personally ever seen- playing the role with so much heart- and Rade Serbedzija who is gruff but sincere. I appreciated the subtlety of Stephen Dillane's performance, Nina Dobrev is charming and Ayelet Zurer is compassionate and heartfelt. Rosamund Pike is more than just eye candy, she does bring life and spark despite the writing lacking lustre in her scenes with Dillane and the role being a little thankless and vastly improved over the somewhat shallow and unlikeable Alex in the book.
Overall, uneven and doesn't completely succeed, but very well-made, well-acted and moving, worth seeing. 7/10 Bethany Cox