Even though I personally find it far more compelling even purely on the surface level, I think it’d be hypocritical of me – at least on this first viewing – to not partially lump this in with Zodiac and American Gangster and others from last year in terms of its visual and stylistic aspects often somewhat outweighing its emotional drive.
I looked forward to writing here about the length in hopes it would be one of those rare exceptions where long is good. At times, that’s true – for me it’s the little things, like how even a character’s blink seems to be drawn out over a number of shots; the death of James itself, too, by far one of the most beautiful scenes in the film, the inevitability of it all drawn out excruciatingly. But my attention certainly did wander in places and I see no reason why it couldn’t have been pared down at least below the 2 hour mark. A lot of people have compared the movie to the work of Terrence Malick – both of whose first 2 movies came in at 90 minutes making no sacrifices of depth. I know I go on about this too much but really with the number of great movies coming out now, even those dedicating an unhealthy amount of their time to watching them needs a break
I’m certain it will grow on me with subsequent viewings, but I can’t deny a slight twinge of disappointment as I’ve been looking forward to seeing this one for a long time. Does Casey Affleck deserve the Oscar nomination just for making it through 3 hours without smirking that blasted smirk of his once? Probably not. But I was glad to see him looking pretty much 100% serious at last, and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few moments of his that truly caught me offguard. The Nick Cave score works much better with the pictures, too; I’d listened to it before Christmas and, well, it’s really not one for the iPod, put it that way.