Loving from a distance

Posted by · 2:02 am · July 18th, 2008

Well, “WALL-E” finally lands in the UK today, and this weekend I’ll be able to evaluate it for myself at last. (But hey, at least we got “Mamma Mia!” first. Score!)

I am always a bit nervous about approaching something that’s been praised to the skies so far in advance of my own interpretation – but today’s very interesting Guardian review gave me some pause. I’d ignore it if it were by that wily contrarian Peter Bradshaw, but Xan Brooks is a genuinely thoughtful writer whose views I value more than most:

What a rich, strange and intriguing picture this is; a wintry Cassandra in the guise of a pearl-bright summer blockbuster. There is something giddyingly impressive in the way in which its makers have cherry-picked a crop of antique ingredients and then forged them into something new. The plot is a meld of Silent Running, Metropolis and Robinson Crusoe. At times it is possible to catch the ghost of Charlie Chaplin behind Wall-E’s silent, stoic pursuit of his social better. At others the film’s central romance plays like the Genesis story with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton cast in the roles of Adam and Eve. That narrow neck and blinking binocular specs are a dead giveaway.

For all that, faint doubts remain. Wall-E (the character) is eminently lovable, by far the film’s most human inhabitant. And yet Wall-E (the movie) actually has more in common with EVE. It is an exquisitely rendered piece of work; beautiful, flawless, serious in its intent and hermetically sealed. You can admire it to the skies and back. You can even learn to love it from a distance. But does Andrew Stanton’s film amount to much more than a brilliant aesthetic exercise? I’m not convinced it does.

I understand that there are more than a few people who have been intensely moved by the film, and who would therefore not identify with this perspective at all. But in an environment where Metacritic scores are bandied about as if they’re some irrefutable artistic Solomon, it’s always healthy to read an alternative individual voice. I can’t wait to find my own on this film.

1 Comment Tags: , | Filed in: Daily

1 response so far

  • 1 7-18-2008 at 10:40 am

    Joseph said...

    Yeah… totally disagree. Part of its irresistible beauty belongs to the fact that it IS so intimately human and so effortlessly reassuring in its simple, unwavering charm. The magnificent humanity and child-like wonderment the robotic characters (primarily WALL-E) bring to the film is powerful in its poignancy and understanding of the things that make us the unique, feeling creatures we are… enough to restore those things and change forever the course of mankind. It really makes you aware of those irreplaceable human traits and triumphs that will never be diffused, and that is something only a machine (ha) couldn’t be profoundly moved by.