As I write this, I am surrounded by boxes and bags, full of Kat's and my belongings, in preparation for our apartment move next week. I cannot express how much I abhor moving, and yet somehow, I seem to have moved every couple of years. Interestingly, even though we are staying in the same neighbourhood - our new apartment is only about a mile away from our current one - the move from Australia to the States seemed somewhat easier. Sure, there were all sorts of administrative things to worry about then, but the actual transport of our belongings was rendered much simpler by the fact that we just bought all our furniture anew. Thus, all we really brought with us from Sydney were clothes. Now, we have a whole apartment of stuff to schlep. How did we accumulate so many things in just two years?
Next up in 1982's selection of Best Picture nominees is...
(based on the novel by Barry Reed)
Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason, Milo O'Shea, Lindsay Crouse
Frank Galvin (Newman) is barely a lawyer and mostly an alcoholic. When he's not at the bar drinking and playing pinball, he scours for business at strangers' funerals. Yep, he's an ambulance-chaser, and he's not even very good at that. Fortunately, his friend Mickey (Warden) sets Frank up with a case he can't lose - a medical malpractice suit involving a young woman who fell into a coma. Both the hospital and the victim's family are keen to settle out of court, but Frank unexpectedly refuses the generous settlement to take the case to trial - something about "doing the right thing". With the ruthless Ed Concannon (Mason) as opposing counsel and the unsympathetic Judge Hoyle (O'Shea) presiding, Frank has his work cut out for him. Somehow, amid this incredible workload, he also manages to begin a relationship with the intelligent yet mysterious Laura Fischer (Rampling), who is not entirely who she seems.
I must admit, I do love a good Sidney Lumet film. The sadly Oscarless director was nominated for his deft hand here, another fine example of his subtle style. Nothing is ever forced down the audience's throat. On the one hand, he uses abundant wide shots, allowing us to witness the entire scene unfold. On the other hand, he lingers on simple yet meaningful looks, leaving us to solve the puzzle on our own. The credit for the effectiveness of those wordless moments must also be given to Oscar-nominated scribe David Mamet and his artfully expressive screenplay.
If I were to find fault anywhere in this fine picture, it would have to be with the initial stages of Frank's relationship with Laura. This subplot's connection to the rest of the narrative seemed somehow strained. I even pondered whether Charlotte Rampling's character was even necessary at all. Until, of course, the twist that makes Laura's existence in the story abundantly clear. Only then does she become a truly fascinating study. Perhaps part of the problem early on is that unusually grave and overly dramatic score underneath the scenes between Frank and Laura. So much like a horror movie score, in fact, that I almost expected Laura to peel off her face and reveal an alien underneath.