Monday, June 20, 2016

Sophie's Choice (1982) - 8 stars out of 10

Sophie's Choice (1982) - 8 stars out of 10

"Sophie's Choice" is a film that everybody should see at least once.  It has its slow moments (which magnify the 2 1/2-hour runtime) but discovering the choice that Sophie has to make is a cinematic rite of passage. Meryl Streep's Oscar-winning performance is nothing short of perfection.  The demanding role required her to perfect a Polish accent, speak in multiple languages, and interpret one character throughout several phases of life.  She visually transitions between a vibrant woman, an ill immigrant, and a prisoner with a shaved head in a concentration camp.  The accent is so impeccable that you constantly forget that this is an American actress, and she does it all while expressing an incredible depth of emotion.  For everything that this film lacks in pacing, it is redeemed through Streep's flawless performance that may very well be the greatest of all time.  Kevin Kline manages to keep up with her through his multifaceted character, making his highs very high and his lows devastatingly low.  The main disappointment of the film is Peter MacNicol.  I find his character to be an annoying third wheel that lacks emotion in highly emotional situations.  He doesn't undergo the transformation that he should and is easily overshadowed by Kline and Streep.  Even though the main character is a complete dud, the film creates several amazing moments such as the romantic piano sequence, Kline's two irrational outbursts, and obviously all of the concentration camp scenes.  I feel that these moments are some of the best ever produced and yet, I agree with the fact that the film was not nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.  It is beautiful to watch but there is a lot of dead space.  The foul-mouthed female character that dates Stingo (whose I can’t even identify by name because she isn’t important enough to be mentioned in any synopsis) could have been completely written out and saved us 15 minutes.  There is enough occurring in the present and in the flashbacks that we do not need irrelevant deviations to lengthen the film.  “Sophie’s Choice” can be a tough film because of its slow pace but Streep’s performance and the secret that is revealed at the end make it worth pushing through.  You will never forget “the scene” for as long as you live.

[Pictured: Nothing can prepare you for this scene]

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