Monday, September 1, 2008

New Yorker on Mister Foe and the Measure of a Name

It is with some hesitation that I read this am, the new review of Mister Foe in the New Yorker Magazine. The hesitation is due to a recent incident where my remarks were wrongly attributed to someone else, and it cast an grossly erroneous light on a matter that never existed at other words sloppy shoddy journalism making its appearance in what is, for the most part, a fairly well written, well edited (and fact checked) magazine. Thus, it was keeping this in mind when I saw the review for Mister Foe come online there, but was relieved that the standards of old seemed to hold true, and they too, addressed the DREADFUL name change of the film from the original given title. While the review isn't overly glowing for director David Mackenzie nor the movie, its not exactly horrible either, with mentions of the actual cast besides Jamie (Sophia Myles, Ciaran Hinds and yay Jamie Sives) some key points as follows:

The original title of “Mister Foe,” when it opened in Europe, was “Hallam Foe,” and that was a better fit. It’s the name of the central character, played by Jamie Bell, and one thing he never feels like is a Mister. First, he doesn’t turn eighteen until halfway through the movie; and, second, he hardly slots into society with the assurance—either the ease of body or the confidence of spirit—that would lead anyone to call him Mr. Foe. On the one occasion when a friend at work does use that term of address, it is said with a sour snarl, as if to caution Hallam not to grow up too fast.


Behind “Mister Foe” lies a bundle of Hitchcock highlights: “Psycho” is here, of course, in the son’s contorted longings; “Rear Window” remains the template for all voyeurs; and there are whispers of “Rebecca” in the mysterious death by water of a first wife. Mackenzie is wise enough, however, not to try to ape the manners of the Master as well as his themes; “Mister Foe” is shifty and jolting to look at, immune to the charms of urbanity, and sprinkled with a rash of plaintive songs, courtesy of bands such as Franz Ferdinand, and drums that knock like heartbeats. Some of the best things in the movie zip by, as if to offset the earnestness of its main conceit: blink and you’ll miss the blink of Kate’s eyelid, framed in extreme closeup, as she fends off Hallam’s question “Is Alasdair your boyfriend?” with the lying rebuff “God, no, he’s got a wife and a kid.” The vigor and saltiness of her couplings with Alasdair, like the dirty talk between her and Hallam, show that Mackenzie, the creator of “Young Adam” (2003), has lost none of his taste for the explicit. “Mister Foe” flirts too often with the unlikely and the foolish, yet there is something to admire in the nerve of its reckless characters, so uneasy in their skins. If you can’t take sex or violence, be warned: there’s no violence here, but the sex looks like violence, and that makes it doubly difficult to forget.

1 comment:

  1. Is it me or is there a curiously snooty tone to this review?

    "flirts too often with the unlikely & foolish" . . .

    reviewer missed the point I think.