Cinema Review – SAVAGES
The much-anticipated SAVAGES hits the UK cinemas this weekend, but is Stone back on form? Teri takes a look Oliver Stone’s new film Savages should know not to take itself too seriously. After all, it’s a film that centres around a polyamorous threeway between two marijuana growers and a hippie-dippie rich kid dream girl, and [...]
The much-anticipated SAVAGES hits the UK cinemas this weekend, but is Stone back on form? Teri takes a look
Oliver Stone’s new film Savages should know not to take itself too seriously. After all, it’s a film that centres around a polyamorous threeway between two marijuana growers and a hippie-dippie rich kid dream girl, and what happens when said girl is taken away by a dangerous drug cartel who want part of the business. It’s so over the top that it should be a guilty pleasure – think Spun meets Sunset Beach meets A Life Less Ordinary, with its blissed-out colour palette and characters that are so bonkers they might as well be animated. It falls short though, because some of the delivery is so mind-bogglingly earnest that, instead of laughing with it, we end up merely laughing at it.
From the moment the film begins – Blake Lively as O, all hair and legs, strolling down a beach in black and white and informing us that she’s going to narrate this whole shitstorm of a plot – I could tell already that it was
going to be a bit of a uncontrolled hot mess. The odd dipping in and out of stylized sequences like this one (that look borrowed from a bad perfume advert, may I add) distract so much in their infrequency, and Blake’s scratchy monotone does not help matters either. “I may be dead or alive at the end of this,” she drones, squinting at the sun.
Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch play Ben and Chon respectively, the pot growers, the former some sort of New Age treehugger, the latter a cold and seemingly heartless ex-Marine with arms bigger than most men’s thighs. O explains the contrast rather aptly, when describing their relationship and how each man differs from the other: “Chon fucks – Ben makes love”. Vomit.
When O is kidnapped, they react accordingly – Ben freaks out, Chon is out for blood. These are cookie cutter men, people – one wouldn’t expect any less. It’s a shame that Taylor Kitsch has been labeled ‘box office poison’, as this could have been his film to prove his critics wrong (it isn’t), but what’s even sadder is that Johnson, who is usually half-decent, flails. Props for getting him to say the line “Buddha wouldn’t agree” with a straight face, though. That takes some acting.
The supporting cast are a little more bearable – my love for Salma Hayek will never die, and Benicio del Toro is great as the mustachioed, lumbering cartel enforcer Lado. They’re both camping it up big style for this, and the most fun to be had in Savages is whenever they’re onscreen. Travolta’s not bad either, and it’s good to see Emile Hirsch even though I think he’s a little above what he’s playing. That said, there is some enjoyment to be found in Savages – the comedy of its awfulness, mostly, and Hayek’s performance as the uber catty uber curvy uber fabulous villain is great. I just wish that the comedy was amped up and the odd objectification of the male protagonists was toned down. O is a complete non-character too, and it was hard to believe some of the things the boys would do to keep her.
You’re not back to your old ways yet, Oliver – better luck next time.