Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Painted Bird - Movie Review

The Movie: The Painted Bird

The Director: Václav Marhoul

The Cast: Petr Kotlár, Stellan Skarsgård, Harvey Keitel, Barry Pepper, Julian Sands, Udo Kier

The Story: A young Jewish boy somewhere in Eastern Europe seeks refuge during World War II where he encounters many different characters.

The Review:
Václav Marhoul's nearly three hour World War II drama is a beautifully shot piece of cinematic artwork. The choice to film in black and white adds to the slow and methodical pacing of the story which follows a young Jewish boy through some seriously messed up stuff. Right from the beginning, we see acts of brutality and the entire film is basically more of the same as the boy meets new people who almost immediately experience some sort of violent end or at least the violent part if not death as well.

I feel like this is one of those movies that people much smarter than me when it comes to movies and much more knowledgeable about the history of film will appreciate much more than I did. Any subtle nuances or historical references flew right by me if they were there to be found and, for the most part, the story was a hard one to stay engaged with. I do have a lot of respect for the quality of the film from a technical aspect as it is a very bold undertaking with a consistently high level of execution.

The best way I would describe the film, it is a melancholy mixture of Forrest Gump and Saving Private Ryan but without any tension, excitement, humor or action to keep you entertained. It's basically a kid wandering through a war in eastern Europe and witnessing or experiencing a steady stream of horrible things. I will say this, there were a few times I thought about hitting the stop button and I ended up powering through. To be honest, I'm glad I watched the movie even if it didn't grab me the way I was hoping it might.

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