With some rare free time to kill, I went to see this on a whim. Really wish I’d hung around the IFI another twenty minutes to see Dogtooth. But I’d already been hanging around a bit and I like anything to do with painting so I went to see Nightwatching, based around Rembrandt’s masterpiece.
I sure knew the name Peter Greenaway but couldn’t exactly place it. Then from the very first scene I realised it had to be the same guy who made The Cook, The Thief, The Wife and His lover (which I loved). Both are very theatrical, very well staged, broad panoramas, and slightly otherwordly.
Similar to the only other movie I’ve seen based around a painting, The Girl with a Pearl Earring, many of the scenes are like moving paintings. Tables adorned with fruit and shimmering crystal, and poised gentle folk laden in shadowed velvet. Very effective cinema in itself and it could have been great. But I can’t remember the last time I was so bored in a cinema. I couldn’t wait for it to end. After a lifetime, though it may have been an hour, a story began to appear and I realised why I was so bored, before the story it seemed like one random scene after another. But it didn’t get much better. I couldn’t care less when someone died, even though the music told me I really should care.
Riddle me this. If most of the cast, who are based on people from Amsterdam, speak with strong English accents, then why did one of the women have a very strong Dutch accent? What the hell does that mean? Is she über dutch? Confusingly inconsistent. And Martin Freeman was as good as could be. But his accent was so regional he might as well have been back in Slough wearing his office suit. It made some scenes appear like comedy sketches, albeit very well lit ones with great set design. Odd casting, or directing, or something.
I’d usually mull over the credits respectfully, but the second THE END appeared I was outta there, trying to get past people who were mulling over the credits respectfully and annoyed at my interference. Was very surprised I was the only one in such a rush to get away from it all. Lazy cliches to follow but I really found it to be terribly boring self-indulgence; a pale imitation of Greenway’s better work.