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BELOVED

SYNOPSIS:
Sethe (Oprah Winfrey), is the weary, middle-aged head of a household, is plagued figuratively (or literally) by the spirit of her past. When a mud-smeared teenage girl limps onto her doorstep, the family succumbs to turmoil. Without question, Sethe adopts this feral woman-child who can hadly walk, who calls herself Beloved, the name chiselled on a tombstone belonging to Sethe's elder daughter, long dead. Beloved’s presence works as a catalyst, stirring up memory fragments; Sethe recalls her tumultuous escape from the Kentucky Sweet Home plantation and what a mother will pay to protect her children from slavery, a sentence worse than death.

"Haunting, with exquisite, crisp images, Beloved is evocative, powerful film making combining leisurely story-telling with extraordinarily moving performances from a top cast. To her credit, Oprah, abandoning her all so familiar television personality, is magnificent – earthy, warm, natural, unself-conscious, convincing. It's a marvellously complex performance. But the whole cast is wonderful. Beloved is very long and could well be trimmed, but it is a complex story that does require time in the telling. Throughout, a sense of mystery and implications of the supernatural are handled sensitively and intelligently. Directed with passion and artistic flair, the use of tight close ups and the technique of making intimate moments directed to the camera are most effective. There is much attention to the setting of scenes, often with splendid scenery; you can feel the chill of the crystal clear river where two turtles mate. The tranquility is contrasted by the turmoil in the traumatised lives – we meet and embrace real people with down to earth personalities and characteristics. The production design, glorious cinematography and Rachel Portman's multi-layered score is especially effective – Beloved is a cinema lover's delight."
Louise Keller

"Powerful images, memorable characterisations and a gripping cinematic journey await audiences who see Beloved, a sometimes frustrating but generally satisfying and engrossing film with a standout performance from Oprah Winfrey - and all her supports. The powderkeg subject matter and the striking direction combine to create an emotionally fulfilling film that defies its length with concentrated tension throughout – a feat of filmmaking. My frustrations come from the occasionally muddy sound mix that fudges some dialogue – at a couple of crucial moments; as well as the usual problems of adapting complex, far reaching literature into compact, visually-driven art. Too much is missing, too much is included. But I stress that these are relatively minor squabbles, because what Demme has achieved here is genuine movie magic, sweeping us into another world, aided by superb production design and one of the best scores of the year. A feast of emotions, a surprisingly bare, vulnerable, accessible Oprah - and a magnificent Thandie Newton in the title role - override any shortcomings; it’s worth the money. Unless you’re KKK."
Andrew L. Urban

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

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TRAILER

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

BELOVED
(US)

CAST: Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, Thandie Newton, Kimberly Elise

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme

PRODUCER: Jonathan Demme, Kate Forte, Gary Goetzman, Edward Saxo, Oprah Winfrey

SCRIPT: Toni Morrison (novel), Akosua Busia

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tak Fujimoto

EDITOR: Andy Keir, Carol Littleton

MUSIC: Rachel Portman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kristi Zea

RUNNING TIME: 178 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 11, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: October 1, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista







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