I watched Sally Potter’s Ginger and Rosa last night. It’s a heartfelt film, with some poignant performances from the two young actors who play the girls, but, perhaps because it’s my period (I was twelve in 1962 and I remember the Cuban missiles scare, and being in CND and having a beatnik cousin who played the sax, and I too had a wild friend like Rosa who went to the bad) I was not truly entranced until the drama picked up in the last third. Anyway, my point is that, after enjoying the film, I watched the ‘special features’ on the DVD, including very long interviews with the cast and director. My goodness, they were all fulsome about each other! They all loved each other, deeply admired each others’ art and craft, etc. I am not taking the piss out of them , by the way, because I know that when I make a film ,or direct a play, I feel just the same, I fall in love with the entire cast and crew. There is something about these creative enterprises that casts a powerful and seductive spell over all the participants. However, this heady enchantment does not mean that your film or play will necessarily have a similar effect on the audience.
Take the wonderful Terence Malick’s new film, To the Wonder. I went last week with Rebecca. Now this is a truly magical film: the camera swoops, surges, swings along with the lovers it depicts and takes you right into the heart of the experience of being in love. So far so good. However, it is clear that Mr Malick is/was more than a little enamoured of his gorgeous star, Olga Kurylenko, with the results that there is literally about half an hour of material where she dances about in a fey and extremely annoying way. And I mean, just dances about. Rebecca was getting through her sweeties fast, we were exchanging appalled glances, I was even thinking of walking out of my hero’s movie before I actually threw up on the nice new seats of the posh little boutique cinema (Booths, in Hay, it’s fab!).
My point is: why didn’t someone say to Malick: ‘look, there is an excessive amount of dancing about in this film. You can make your point with a third of the amount.’ Maybe they did. Maybe he ignored them. And in doing so, he spoiled his film.
It’s that hot, rushing, exciting feeling of being-in-love which is so delicious and irresistible. I have been seduced by it many times and I know it is not to be confused with getting it right artistically.