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Never having heard of this film, I randomly picked it off the shelf, and cannot believe I'm not hearing about this film daily.

It was brilliant. It begins by washing over everything, people's speech included, with fifties-era clothing and opinions, and then manages to give us something completely different. The performances by Christina Ricci and Hank Harris were outstanding. Although I do believe that Ricci deserves to get some more recognition, I can't help but hope that she doesn't, so she can continue to churn out gems like this.

This film had me jumping up in my seat, dying to know what happens next. It pulls your emotions in, and makes you really, really hope that society will not win. No one believes that Pumpkin can feel. He is retarded, and it seems that means he cannot love, yearn, or have sexual desires. In today's society, the disabled community is beginning to have a voice, and tell people that they are just the same as everyone else, and this film painfully shows us that. You want to jump in there, and scream at some of these people that you can't only pay attention to something different when it is good for your image.

I will admit that this film had a few flaws. Who can really believe that someone can careen off a cliff in a burning car, only to end up confined to a wheelchair, otherwise unscathed? And the poetry professor who helps Caroline realize that the world can be ugly is something that has been done way too many times before.

But, this still manages to make it into my top-ten list. I liked that this ended up as a feel-good flick, but brought me there through disgust, rage, distress, and fear. Not too many films can do that simply through a love story.

The Life Before This

it drew me in...
I've just read a few of the comments on this film, and I can't believe how much people hated it. I adored it. I admit that I was bored at first, but then I suddenly found myself deep in it, and enthralled by the characters. I think that's why people didn't like it. If you're looking for a chronological narrative with closure, this isn't for you. But if you're looking for an in-depth and personal look into people's lives, and how lonely, confused, and scared they can be, this is it.

Sarah Polley is incredible as always. She's been one of my favorites for years. And Catherine O'Hara made me remember how much I adore her. She's absolutely wonderful. I could go on... Stephen Rea, Joe Pantoliano, everyone here has a chance to shine, and they do. They show you how people can hurt.

Umberto D.

I just saw this film today in film class, and for the first time in two years of film studies I was moved to tears by a chosen film. This film was amazing.

It's a fairly simple story, and not one that I haven't heard or seen in other films or books, but it just seemed so real. It was heartbreaking to see this proud man reduced to thoughts of suicide, and try to leave his only friend in the world.

I want to use the word magnificent to describe the acting done, but it is too showy a word for something so real. I find it hard to believe that this was a first-time gig for both 'Umberto' and 'Maria'. I have never felt so much pity, sympathy, and distraught at watching characters undergo similar situations.

It also gave a pretty bleak view of society. It is horrible that nobody is willing to help, and this was fifty years ago. It's unfortunate that things are even worse now. It should not be so difficult for someone to simply survive, which is all Umberto strives for. He wants to live in the room he's occupied for twenty years, and have food for he and his beloved dog. It's disgusting that the world he lives in cannot help him achieve that.

It was absolutely heartwrenching to watch Umberto attempt to abandon Flag. The desperate determination that is evident on Umberto's face is almost enough to make you wish that he does successfully leave Flag with a new family, and manage to end his sad existence. I am glad that he was not, because if he was I think I would have been a blubbering mess in the school theatre.

Truly inspirational. And that is the first time I have ever felt the need to use those words.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Not a success
If my comments seem jaded, they are. Dumas' novel The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my desert-island favorite books. Reynold's film version is not.

The best thing about this film is the star, James Caviezel. His dark, brooding looks and calm actions convey the Count masterfully. Unfortunately, with the exception of the priest, he is the only member of this cast to do so. Guy Pearce, who endeared himself to me in Memento, is awful. He looks sickly throughout, and so thin that anyone could blow him over. Dagmara Dominczyk, as the driving force behind Edmund Dantes actions, is pitiful. I will admit that her consistently heaving bosom and quivering chin will please many of the audience members, but her character has no substance. It is hard to imagine that not only does Edmund fall in love with her, but it is because of her that Fernand betrays his friend. Luis Guzman seems to only be there for some comic relief, which although he managed to do in both Boogie Nights and Traffic, he does not achieve here. It is at the moment that he appears that the film gives up any hope it may have been great. The moment when the Count appears before Parisian society, descending the staircase with his cape billowing behind him in the wind, is amazing. Viewing it in the trailer gave me shivers. Unfortunately, in order to see it here, you first have to see him come down in a hot air balloon - my companion for the film commented "Was Cirque de Soleil in the book?" My recommendation- if you are a fan of the novel, stick to watching the trailer. If you aren't, and are in the mood for a piece of run-of-the-mill Hollywood action where the good guy is wronged, gets revenge, then gets the girl, go and enjoy.

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