Waiting for the Barbarians

Waiting for the Barbarians ★★

I’ve found Ciro Guerra’s work in the past to be truly alluring and authentic, so it’s with disdain that I found Waiting for the Barbarian’s to be neither alluring or authentic. 

All of the film’s assets are discouraged by the sloppy book to screen translation. Guerra clearly treats the source material with care, and as such if you’re a fan of the book it’s likely to work for you, however if you aren’t aware of the book the film might feel inaccessible and barren. The film is steadily paced, impressively shot and well edited, it’s only the story which lacks in substance. The film is very unsubtle, it’s deep themes are explored in a fairly shallow way. I found the ending to be anticlimactic, not that the stakes are awfully high throughout the film but the slow build really leads to nothing. 

Mark Rylance is customarily very good, he certainly adds to the accessibility of the story. Robert Pattinson’s role in the film is extremely brief but he makes good use of his screen time. Johnny Depp on the other hand has a much more important role in the story, however I wasn’t massively impressed by his performance, he was too arid for the role he was playing. I think the story might be more interesting if it was either cut down into a short, or if it was handled with more depth in a longer piece of storytelling, which is a very rare thesis to have for a film. Overall the struggle to pinpoint my disappointment for this film only insinuates that it misses the mark despite Guerra’s impressive work. 

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