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Wise Blood

Posted by martinteller on July 23, 2010

With the string of shitty movies that John Huston pumped out during his final years, it’s kind of a miracle that he ended his career with something as wonderful as The Dead.  This one is another literary adaptation (from Flannery O’Connor’s first novel) but is far, far less satisfying.  I haven’t read O’Connor’s work, but I have to believe it’s not nearly this condescending to Southerners.  Most of the major characters are ignorant kooks, the same kind of smug fake-liberal viewpoint seen in stuff like Junebug.  Aww see, they’re racist and uneducated, but aren’t they lovably quirky?  The movie also has a lot of inappropriately goofy music, to help point out how wacky and satirical it all is.  There are some unusual takes on religion here, but they’re not developed very far, and the movie really doesn’t mine anything that interesting until the last 15-20 minutes.  Other than that, it’s pretty much a waste of a good Brad Dourif performance.  Rating: 5


3 Responses to “Wise Blood”

  1. This is disappointing. I’m a huge fan of O’Connor’s short stories, and I keep planning to read Wise Blood and then watch this. I guess I’ll second guess that idea. O’Connor certainly has what you might call a vicious streak – but maybe it’s fair to call that streak more blackly comic than anything. Her character are cartoonish (she was actually a cartoonist for a time) but they always serve some larger theme or revelation – and she enfolds herself within the world of the kooks (some of her stories are directly autobiographical – she saw herself as a freak, in some sense). I can imagine that her satirical skill with words, her black comedy, her themes would be difficult to get on film – without seeming just crass. Perhaps that’s what happened here – Huston, following too closely to O’Connor, didn’t translate the story enough for the screen? Or perhaps he wasn’t as closely and personally associated with the world? Interesting. I may have to watch the film after the book just to see.

  2. Well, don’t necessarily take my word for it. Criterion Collection released it, so apparently someone thinks it’s a movie worth seeing. I would definitely like to hear your take on it.

  3. When/if I get to it, I’ll let you know!

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