to know better than the sweet tooth..
Van Sant’s diagnosis to Callahan’s biography is too brittle to stand on its own ground. The structure itself isn’t palpable to the tone of the track. It either skips a bit or two or goes into inessential details that never should have made the cut. Ticking for around two hours, it sure makes you sweat especially in its last half.
But it also doesn’t suggest that it is in it’s A game in the first one, in fact the first act is spent upon just introducing characters and setting their sub-plots and characteristics for further development. Just like the sessions Phoenix has as an alcoholic with his group, the entire feature is a series of pathos ideology or tales that is if not eradicated but surely mended with a sweeter tooth. And Van Sant is experienced enough to know better than the sweet tooth, his methods aren’t general as the tale demands.
Even his execution at times, seems daft along with editing whose attempt to go bolder and “raunchy” backfires vigorously (the first time Phoenix meets Mara could have been shot in a lots of better ways). Then, amidst all this, what is it that makes one thrive for this sometimes uneven and unstable venture. The answer is simply heartbreaking performance delivered by each cast member. Mara may not get any stand alone moment but she is thoroughly competent in her role just as Black is, in his complex one.
The show stealer in here is undoubtedly Hill, whose not only character is aptly cooked and has three dimensional perspective resided within, but his each line quoted is justified thoroughly by his expressive portrayal; the meltdown in the end genuinely communicates with the viewers. The phenomenon Phoenix, at the heart of it, keeps it pumping harder and faster than ever despite of all the ups and downs. Not only he is physically challenged and constraint in its acts, but is also emotionally complex and on the extreme side of being of expressive and inexpressive nature.
Fortunately, Phoenix has the potential to pull it off easily where he dances to his own beats and this time his partner is an empty bottle; it’s a well choreographed act on terms of character analysation. Van Sant’s project can be represented as its self-created sequence of Phoenix trying to reach for the bottle for the entire night; he is never going to get it but it surely can be a lesson to be learned from. The narration is elaborative but is also over-stretched and loses viewers’ attention when it over chews few stuffs and takes its material for granted.
The conversations are pragmatic and dialogues are layered that makes you think twice. In fact, there is a line that Phoenix quotes multiple times and it changes the gist or meaning of the line each time as it draws out various emotions from him. Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot can actually be the guarantee or warranty card for this pathos bubble, it definitely pops, but its impact isn’t wide enough to cover up the aspired range.