Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ★½

"I’ve written before about how much I admire Adam Driver, and if there is anyone who manages to make this film somewhat palatable and interesting it is him. The only aspect of this movie that begs for deeper contemplation is Adam Driver, and his ability to make his scenes more complicated through his ability to convey more than one emotion at once with his face. Disney Live action cinema works in a way that robs the actor of genuine performance, because there are problems of constant exposition or action sequences which shoot for scale rather than emotion. This has a way of minimizing the actor as a stand-in or transformed into a delivery device of plot rather than human connection. Adam Driver has managed to rise above this with his performance as Kylo Ren. In The Rise of Skywalker only Ridley and Driver get the chance to act in close-up and have quieter moments of contemplation. Ridley fails to maximize these moments, because she only ever seems to be able to convey one thing at a time, whether that be loss or determination or joy, but Driver uses his few close-ups to twist the knife in. If you are reading this review and you are not aware of Kylo Ren’s narrative arc, the gist of it is that he feels without family and turned to the dark-side as a result. During a flash-back sequence in The Last Jedi (2017) he was shown to have been attacked by Luke Skywalker in a moment of deep paranoia about the dark side of the force taking hold of the child. As a result Ren turned to evil, but he’s never bought into that ideology one hundred percent. He struggles with letting go of his mother (Princess Leia) , and he has never been able to forgive himself for killing his father (Han Solo). He hates himself so completely, but he does so in a way that is borderline pathetic and petulant, but it’s so easy to find him relatable, because he’s haunted by his own actions, and his regrets. Driver fully embodies all of this with the body language and angst of a teenager lashing out at his own parents, but he’s too grown up for that, and his sins are too great to warrant forgiveness. Driver knows this, and in his redemption in The Rise of Skywalker, he communicates all of that information beautifully atop the crashing waves after a battle recently lost. He can’t go back, but even this is undone by the decision to have Ren become a hero, instead of someone who must atone for the rest of his life. He dies a saint, forgiven, but Driver suggests something different with his acting. If only the film were as complicated as Driver’s choices."

I hated the new Star Wars film. Full review here: ($4 patrons)

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