Earlier this year Mark Rylance was a surprise (to some) winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his underplayed portrayal of Rudolf Abel in Steven Spielberg’s Best Picture nominee, the historical drama Bridge of Spies. This summer the two filmmakers reunite to bring Roald Dahl’s children’s novel to the screen.
The choice of material is surprising at best. Dahl wrote better books, much better books. The BFG is a rather simple adventure story of an orphaned girl Sophie who discovers a giant and is carried away into his world. The big, friendly giant has a talent to create dreams with magic. Sophie is clever and book smart. Together they outwit larger giants who see Sophie as a snack. The movie wants to be a knee slapper comedy. If you think the image of the Queen of England releasing a tremendous fart is a giggle, this movie will tickle you. Otherwise, you must rely on other charms.
First and foremost, the performance of Mark Rylance as the elongated giant who embraces dreams and suffers constant Malapropisms is magnificent. I read somewhere that the true test of an actor is to plant his feet and say, “I stand for truth, justice and the American way.” Any actor who can make you believe that is a good actor. Such challenges face Rylance throughout the film. He must say lines that are simply silly. He makes every moment true. I never doubted the BFG as a real character. If I didn’t have total faith in Rylance’s Oscar win, I do now. This is one marvelous actor.
The movie is a technical marvel, even for Spielberg. Each new world visited appears vivid and complete. Special kudos must be given to cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. The images of this film are the quality of a masterful children’s storybook. They have a painterly feel that evokes fond memories of childhood when a trusted adult read you a favorite story. The two time Oscar winner may well be a contender again for this unique but top drawer imagery.
Unfortunately, none of these attributes will draw adolescent boys or adult men who behave like adolescent boys to the box office. It is a film for students who have read The BFG with their elementary school teacher and want to watch it with their class or a kindly grandfather who can make any movie he chooses and wants to create a moment with his young grandchildren who still laugh at farts and think that magic might be real.
Well, I’d laugh out loud should Liz2 SIT upon her eugenicist consort and farted…..
This is playing along with Finding Dory tonight (double feature) so I’m there! I don’t mind watching “Dory” again.
The disappointing Box Office for BFG isn’t altogether surprising, but it annoys me.
Nice review. A friend who saw it at Cannes told me I’d love it because of the vegan message lol Can’t wait. I’m always on the “unpopular side” with Spielberg: for instance, I find War Horse a much better movie than Lincoln and Bridge of Spies.