Tuesday, 13 November 2012

We're No Angels (1989) - ★★

Director: Neil Jordan
Writer: David Mamet
Stars: Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Demi Moore, Hoyt Axton, Ray McAnally, James Russo, John C. Reilly

This isn't a bad movie, but it's nothing special or memorable. It seems like a film that was made because De Niro was tired of doing serious roles and wanted something fun. If there is one thing you can take out of this film, it's seeing Sean Penn as a young man, finding his feet in the film industry.

The story follows two escaped convicts, Ned (Robert De Niro), and Jim (Sean Penn). On the run from the unflinchingly cruel, no-nonsense Warden of the prison (Ray McAnally), they find refuge with a church in a small town on the border of Canada. They are mistaken for two priests that did not show up to analyse the town phenomenon of the Weeping Virgin Mary statue. The two are keen to flee across the border to Canada, but one thing after another foils their plans to freedom. Along the way we meet Molly (Demi Moore), an agressive mother of a child who is 'deaf and dumb.' She plays a big role in their plans to avoid being captured.

The story itself is actually pretty funny. My problem is that it didn't come across as funny on the screen. This is supposed to be a comedy, yet I've seen De Niro have funnier performances in many of his serious roles. It has a recipe for a great film: a good story, legendary leading actors, nice cinematography, and a brilliant supporting cast. It just didn't mesh into a consistently entertaining film. For this reason, the movie as a 'comedy' fails.

The supporting cast were funnier than the leads. Particularly John C. Reilly as the young monk who idolizes Father Brown (aka Jim). It's always interesting to see a famous actor's humble beginnings in the film industry. I also thought that Ray McAnally was brilliant as the warden, who was filled with rage because three of his most hated convicts escaped on his watch. Demi Moore was really good as Molly, and also quite irritating. She was strong, stubborn and rude to the priests, but I suppose it was with good reason. These performances were part of the reason this film received two stars.

The other reason this film received two stars is because of one scene which blew me away. It was when Jim gave a speech from the heart about believing in God. "Is God good? I don't know. All I know is... something may give you comfort. And maybe you deserve it. If it comforts you to believe in God, then you do it. That's your business." Sean Penn knocked this monologue out of the park, providing a scene that was much too high a calibre for the movie itself. It really was the highlight of the film for me.

We're No Angels isn't satisfying as a comedy, however, it is satisfying as a film itself. I was never bored for a moment in this film, and never particularly interested (excluding Penn's monologue). If you're a big fan of De Niro and Penn, then you may like this film. I am a big fan of theirs, and I guess that is a part of the reason why I don't hate it. Like I've been saying, it's not a bad film, nor is it good.

No comments:

Post a Comment