Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Wednesday Movie - All About Eve

The only thing worse than subjecting myself to this movie is that I now have to write about it. Had I not left the movie-watching to the zero hour, I would have quickly tossed the tape back on the pile after the first fifteen minutes and picked something else, but it appears I’m both lazy and a whore for deadlines, so here we go.

Although the film proposes to be All About Eve, it’s in fact Mostly About Margo, which is admittedly less direct but decidedly more alliterative. Bette Davis, of eye fame, plays the role of Margo Channing, grand dame of the New York theatre scene circa 1950. Talented, adored, but equally pretentious and bitchy, Margo’s gravitational pull commands a small universe of friends, lovers, and hangers-on. It also draws the worship of a young fan name Eve. Like any good stalker, Eve has been to every performance of Margo’s current play, which is well into its hundredth production at the film’s onset. Eve proves herself obsequious enough to win Margo’s favour and gain entry into her social circle, and as their relationship continues Eve becomes Margo’s personal assistant and closest friend.

But then—backstab! Eve isn’t the demure, kowtowing sycophant she’s made herself out to be at all! Her fandom and friendship is only a means to spy on Margo, learn her craft, and then steal every future role from under her former mentor’s feet. And by movie’s end, she has succeeded; she receives the fictional ‘Sarah Siddons Award’ for theatre performance of the year, she’s about to become Hollywood’s Next Big Thing, and she has a stalker of her very own. That’s called bookends, people.

Reading this description just now makes me feel that I’m giving a false impression that this movie is way more interesting then it actually is. Let me assure you that those hundred and thirty-eight minutes crawled. It was like the last hour of school before summer vacation. It was like going to mass on Easter. I wouldn’t have hated it so much if I hadn’t forced myself to watch it. If this self imposed deadline wasn’t there, I might have just watched it in pieces over a three month period and appreciated it. But I didn’t, so I don’t.

Let’s talk about Bette Davis’s eyes. No, let’s not. Let’s talk about Bette Davis’s wattle, or Bette Davis’s melty skin. She was forty-two during this movie but looks about eighty. No, she looks like one of the Nazis after Belloq opened the arc of the covenant. It doesn’t help that the actress playing Eve is hotter than sin. Just gorgeous. But the movie does this She’s All That thing where they cast a hot, hot woman as the supposed dowdy nerd until she dazzles everyone in her grand un-nerdling. And no, I haven’t watched She’s All That, I’m just aware of the concept.

And let’s talked about pointy bras—what’s the deal there? I’m not being factitious or ironic here; if you have any insight into this, please let me know. Some time in the fifties, somebody, somewhere said, “You know, breasts need to be more conical. This whole round boob thing: just unacceptable.” Was it supposed to be sexier? A sort of disguise? In either regard, the pointy bra gets an F.

The movie just didn’t age well. It may have been fascinating, or revelatory, or compelling at the time, but now it’s just overly long and sodden with dialogue. It feels theatrical in the worst kind of way and it’s not even adapted from the stage. And it’s not as if the dialogue is that quick or witty, or that the plot is so complex that we need so much exposition. Nothing is implied in this movie. In the last scene, when Eve retires to her dressing room to find a young girl waiting for her, a young girl with a fresher face and even pointier breasts, it’s immediately apparent to the viewer what the implication is. But the scene goes on, and on, and fucking on for fifteen minutes. We get it! Maybe fifty some-odd years ago things were different, but today we’re savvy enough to know with that means. Talky, talky—no more talky. End the goddamn scene already!

Again, had the viewing of this movie not been a forced one, things would be different. There’d be a lot less bile. In fact, in place of this whole review would be a remarkably simple summary. This summary would read: meh.

3 comments:

Jorge said...

Kudos to you for writing this review anyway.

I saw you online, and I was tempted to send you a little MSN lovin'. But then, I figured you were up for a reason, and so you will be tired and cranky tomorrow, no matter HOW much sodomy I promise you.

Good work.

kris said...

Murrrr. I have been so excited to see this movie for so long, and now the joy is gone. Just like when Mommy left.

kimmay said...

and you didn't even mention marilyn!