issy 🥝’s review published on Letterboxd:
I finally watched this expecting to come out of it either loving it or extremely angry, because those are the only two moods I've seen from its audience so far. But if I'm honest, the rating isn't because it made me furious, I just didn't think it was a well-made film at all. My only experience in making films is the 3 minute something short film I've had to make for my coursework this year, and I can tell you it's just terrible, so I'm definitely not an expert, and it was a silent film, so I'm definitely not an expert on screenplays specifically. But this came off really bad to me, and I'm honestly confused at how successful it's been this award season. I know I'm usually not so vocal on films I don't like, I just kind of talk about the ones I like and move on because if I'm honest, giving truthful negative opinions on the internet scares me for obvious reasons, and I never want to shit on anybody having a good time with a movie that I just didn't enjoy. But since this is such a focus one recently, and due to the awards success, I wanted to actually try and be serious and tell you what I think.
I don't see anything award worthy in this, I really don't. I thought the music (score and soundtrack) was good, I will be saving some songs on spotify as always. But other than that I am really at a loss. I don't have anything against the people in this, or against the director, that could possibly make me biased and want to dislike it from the start, I know all the actors are genuinely good at what they do, but I just didn't see anything special in their performances here. I wish I did with Frances, but I don't, and that's the one I expected to like if I liked anything.
The screenplay was terrible. My first thought was that it sounded like something an insensitive 15 year would write for a little tv show he wanted to make and then tried to record with his friends that ended up shockingly bad and his mum would say "Ethan... maybe you shouldn't show this to anyone". It was too immature for me, I think when you're dealing with that plot and subject matter, the little jokes and just general attempts at humour came off very strange and unfitting. I think if they were wittier, darker or had better timing it could've worked, but they were just cheap and effortless (not in a good way) and so they felt out of place. The direction was confusing also, the order in which some scenes were placed felt off, these really harsh attempts at being dramatic just came out of nowhere and caught me off guard and, ultimately, failed to make me feel scared or emotional at all.
I felt almost nothing watching this, and when I first saw the trailer before another film in the cinema last year, I didn't expect to feel nothing when I finally watched this. It seemed like it had promise, a woman fighting against the incompetent cops to bring her daughter's killer to justice, that's really not a bad plot at all. (Is it a book? It sounds like it would be better as a book). But I think that message that initially peaked my interest last year got lost in this, I forgot about her daughter completely. And considering what this was supposed to be about - I should not have forgotten about her daughter completely. Especially when I recognised her from Big Little Lies.
I hope I don't shit on anybody's fun with this. I wanted to be honest with the review, because I don't think it was always going to fail, I think it had promise, it had a solid foundation. But unfortunately the end result for me is far from capturing, far from emotional and far from award worthy. It's not the least entertaining film I've ever seen, if it was I wouldn't have watched until the end. But I think, really, I was consistently hoping it would get better. Waiting for a scene in which Frances or Sam or Woody made me go "ah, yes ok I see the reason for an oscar nomination now..". Waiting for a turn in the investigation that would make the plot come back into motion. But unfortunately I didn't see those things happen. And I'm left feeling purely indifferent to it as a film.