I went to watch “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” this Tuesday. It starts with a weak story, then ends a disappointment. This verdict of me might sound harsh, but it came after I watched two romance movies back to back. The other one is Guillermo del Toro directed The Shape of Water. By the end of the 2017/2018 Oscar season, you will know which movie is a superior romance movie.
Now back to “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”, it focuses on the last few years of long-forgotten Oscar winner Gloria Grahame’s life, esp. her romance with then 28-year-old British young man Peter Turner. The two main leads – Annette Bening and Jamie Bell – gave pretty good performances (esp. Bening who is brave enough to show her age on screen), but the whole romance just doesn’t work for me. I know from the beginning the relationship is doomed because of the huge age difference (28 years apart). They were fighting half of the time in the movie, and Jamie Bell’s Peter had to see her dying eventually. The movie is depressing, but I don’t feel sad because I actually do not care about either the characters or their unremarkable love story. To me the only reason this movie is made is because the real Peter Turner is a long time friend with Bond movie producer Barbara Broccoli (they mentioned this on stage at the screening). The director’s decision of using nonlinear narrative also fails. The story jumps back and forth between different years (1979-1981) and locations (Liverpool, LA and NYC), sometimes I got lost a bit.
But if you’re a Jamie Bell fan, you may still want to check it out at some point (rent or borrow from your local library) because
(1) Jamie Bell looked super good in this movie, esp. in blue (yes, I am shallow, but other than the eye candy, I cannot enjoy the story);
(2) Jamie Bell got shirtless (I am still shallow);
(3) Jamie cried beautifully;
(4) Jamie Bell reunited with his Billy Elliot costar Julie Walters;
(5) Jamie Bell read a Romeo and Juliet scene;
(6) Jamie Bell did a Saturday Night Live dance, he even did a split similar to this.
A better director will film Jamie’s split scene from a full body view. I mean if you cast an actor who can do it himself, why not show off the whole scene on screen? Also I want to see Jamie Bell with a better dance partner. Sorry, Annette Bening. She was in good spirit nevertheless.
Speaking of the movie’s Oscar chance, I feel they will push for Annette Bening. But I will watch out for The Shape of Water’s Sally Hawkins (much more memorable also very likable). Jamie Bell is always good, but not Oscar-worthy. Also I wonder if they will cheat by pushing him to the “Supporting” category.
Finally, I just hope Jamie will do a proper romance movie someday if we don’t count The Eagle ;p