Thursday, March 17, 2011

Film Yap: Hemingway's Garden of Eden

There is a level of snootiness in Hemingway’s Garden of Eden that can be mistaken for deep intellect. The film couldn’t even scoot away from avoiding putting Ernst’s name in the title. This is based off his final novel that isn’t as commonly known. It’s about an American writer who quickly marries a girl and then they take part in sexual discovery.

The discovery in sex is underwhelming. Like the rest of the film, ideas are flown around by nothing actually sticks. It tries to play with gender politics and elements of the class system but it always seems empty. Some of that is due to the ill-performed leads: Jack Huston (Boogie Woogie, Boardwalk Empire) and Mena Suvari (American Beauty, American Pie). They have the right look but they can’t seem to make the academic dialog seem naturalistic or believable.

Some of the rest of the cast make it feel more organic, like the fantastic Richard E. Grant (Withnail & I, How to Get Ahead in Advertising). He can take a ridiculous scene that only seems to exist in metaphor and add the proper stakes to the character. Without that expertise the scenes just seem awkward and after a while comical.

While not a horrendous film, Garden of Eden is mostly just lost within its own words. James Scott Linville doesn’t add anything to his direction that gives the film any guidance. Is there judgment, is there stimulation? It all just falls flat by presenting it without any style. The subtle elements of the story are now the only thing on the surface. Haircuts and newspaper clippings are not just motifs, but sometimes the only thing happening in the film.

The actual plot with the introduction of another woman (Caterina Murino) into their love affair is dully predictable. Their compacted romances never feel like they are actually coming from the characters, but happen because these twists are what always happen in these tales. Instead of being provocative, it’s just eye rolling. Cutting away to the African tale that Huston’s character is writing about feels more like filler for an already thin story. It’s unclear what is happening and why we should be interested.

The DVD has no bonus features.

Film: 2 Yaps

Extras: N/A

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