2 April 2012 | lasttimeisaw
A Febiofest screening, nothing signposts that 3 years after multi-Ocsar nominated (including 2 wins) MILK (2008), Gus Van Sant will cook such a cancer-ridden romantic flick grappling with a soul-healing recovery of a parents-bereaved boy after his short relationship with a dying girl although death has been a persistent topic all through his omnibus.
The over-simplified structure may impede Gus from a more spacious platform to perform his mastery, and precipitating an out-and-out snub from all sorts of awards consideration and the disastrous box-office turnover is fatal to destroy its investor's confidence, a total domestic grosses of $164,000 versus its $8 million production budget, which is a far cry not only from MILK, but also much lesser than its indie-alike PARANOID PARK ($490,000), signals that only Van Sant's loyal zealots showed their precious appearances in the cinema. Although smaller the scale, the film still holds steady its stunning visual mode, with bountiful layers of spiritual remedies to cure any scarred heart.
Plot-wise, there are nothing really popped-out, only the Japanese ghost-friend deployment has its exquisite enchantment and exotic luster, but is far from sheer original, which also coincides the film's suffering from the paucity of a one-of-a-kind uniqueness once one can notice among Van Sant's better works (say, ELEPHANT 2003, GOOD WILL HUNTING 1997, and MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO 1991), the story tends to be more lachrymose while marching on the unavoidable finale.
The two leads are basically serviceable, the tenderfoot Henry Hopper, who had just lost his father Dennis Hopper (1936-2010), is inappropriately in time for the role, handsome boys are never amiss in Van Sant's work. By contrast, a burgeoning Mia Wasikowska is the main magnetism on-screen, a product only cannot be stemmed from fiction as it's too ideal to be real.
Personally the film pleased me in a gently soothing method, but it is Van Sant in its very comfort zone without challenging too much of himself.