26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Well, the most suspenseful film I have ever seen,
This review is from: The Wages Of Fear (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
There are two things often said about this film that I would like to strongly agree with: first, it begins rather slowly, and second, it really is one of, if not THE, most suspenseful films ever made.
The first third of the movie moves inexplicably slowly. I can understand many of the reasons why: the attempt to define the characters, to show their interactions with one another, to depict the quiet desperation of their lives to make it plausible that four men would undertake such an astonishingly dangerous job as hauling nitroglycerin over treacherous jungle and mountain dirt roads. Even granting all that, however, the start is by any standard really, really slow. And I suspect that of the people you encounter who proclaim the film a bore either gave up before getting to the good parts or never recovered from the slow start.
The most suspenseful film ever made? Some people assert that the film has been so overhyped along these lines that it would be impossible for any film to come up to one's expectations. There are two edges to this sword. I am far more impressed that despite being hyped as the most suspenseful film ever made, I was nonetheless utterly on the edge of my seat for most of the final 100 minutes. And if some of the scenes seem somewhat familiar, it is undoubtedly because of the score of films that have plundered this film for their own tension-filled scenes.
I have often thought that Yves Montand was, at his best, one of the more compelling performers of the last half of the twentieth century. He wasn't consistently successful internationally. Sometimes one or two decades would come between some of his greatest triumphs. To illustrate, I think Montand's two greatest film appearances were THE WAGES OF FEAR (1953) and JEAN DE FLORETTE/MANON OF THE SPRING (1986), only thirty-three years apart.
Many viewers are not comfortable with the very ending of the movie and I I have to agree somewhat. Nihilism was very fashionable in the early 1950s in European cinema. The ending, which seems completely unnecessary and not organically connected with the rest of the film, reflects less any inner necessity for a downer ending than the general mood in "serious" films at the time. So, in a sense, one could argue that this movie manages to be one of the great classics of cinema despite a slow beginning and an arbitrarily negativistic ending. Where the film shines is in the utterly riveting journey through the jungle and mountains.
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Initial post: May 18, 2009 2:58:26 AM PDT
M. B Cole says:
Nice review Rob. Never even heard of this one. Definitely gonna give it a try now.
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