Oh my, where do I even begin? I’ve always loved Bette Davis. She’s my mom’s favorite actress and I’ve watched Jezebel, Of Human Bondage and The Letter several times growing up. Despite this, I haven’t really caught up on a lot of her movies on my own. This needs fixing. She is just so great and so completely badass as the evil Regina Giddens!
But Davis is just the tip of the iceberg. This movie turned out to be just this series of awesomeness. The story itself is fairly predictable (a recurring pattern with the Hollywood classics I’ve been watching lately). But it’s the way the story is being told and brought to life on screen that makes this such an amazing experience. The performances, the music, the costumes, the set design, the photography – everything is just in perfect sync and everything just seems to be working in such perfect harmony that there were times when I wanted to just pause and admire the movie.
The screenshot I used above to introduce the movie pretty much sets up the entire film. The way the characters are arranged in the frame, their pose, the distances between them — just everything about it perfect. And then there’s this other scene, a little before the one above. It’s a really important scene where lots of characters and relationships are being introduced to us and instead of cutting between the person speaking and the reactions of the other people at the table, there’s this really neat use of the mirror over the table. Or this other scene which leaves us in doubt about Regina’s power or her ambitions.
Another really cool scene is the one between Oscar and Leo. Where normally I’d expect them to be facing each other or for the shot to go from one character to the other, we get this really amazing scene with both of them shaving in the bathroom where the similarities as well as the distance between them is so apparent. Plus, we always get to see both of them react to one another and get to see them from each other PoV too.
Or this other scene where Regina suddenly finds herself catching her reflection in the mirror. That one single moment where Regina is forced to look at herself as others probably see her. When Leo sneaks into the bank at night, nobody sees him and so we don’t either except….
I realize that most of this probably doesn’t sound terribly innovative or interesting to anyone who is not aware of at least the basic plot but these are all things I probably wouldn’t have noticed a year ago but now leave me awestruck and totally impressed and I just had to gush. And the movie is FULL of stuff like this.
I think I read some criticism of David Hewitt’s character in the movie. I found the character extremely likeable and liked the outsider perspective his character provided. Plus, the scenes with him make for some really funny and romantic moments in the movie.
Now all I need is to read the play and find a way to watch this on the big screen.