Sophie’s Choice (1982)

Sophie’s Choice
Directed by Alan Pakula
Written by Alan Pakula based on the novel by William Styron
(number 150)

This movie feels very much like a Woody Allen movie. The setting of fifties Brooklyn, the bright colour palette, the voiceover, the focus on the male character’s experience of women’s lived stories…

This movie is like it’s in two parts. The start of it is sort of fun, sort of the set up to what seems to be a romance between a young Southern writer and an older couple. But then it gets very real with all the memories from the second world war, and the things that Sophie has gone through. Nathan’s intense obsession with the Nazis and the impact Hitler had.

No, it’s three parts with the extensive flashback to Auschwitz that Sophie gets to narrate herself. But then it goes back to Stingo’s pov and the revelations about Nathan and his actual state of mind. It’s a twisty story and one that I didn’t predict except for of course, the choice. I knew it was coming, and I knew she must’ve made it. It didn’t make the scene any easier to watch. It’s brutal, truly brutal with Meryl Streep acting the crap out of the horror and the child screaming and the heartlessness of the Nazi officer. I knew it was coming and I still cried like it was a surprise. Urgh.

Does it make me love the people? I don’t know. They’re all a bit erratic and annoying to be truly loveable but they are realistic. I guess I love Sophie and Nathan. Maybe because I’m pretty convinced Stingo does and the movie’s so close to his point of view.

Bechdel test: There’s Sophie, there’s Yetta, there’s Leslie, but they only speak to men. Although Sophie is the title character, and the glue between Stingo and Nathan, the story isn’t about her. It’s about how Stingo feels about what he learns about her. It’s a subtle difference, and it’s not one I’m sure I’d recognise before watching so many of the movies in this list.

Best line:

Is this queer coding or what? ” How could I have failed to have the most helpless crush on such a generous mind and life-enlarging mentor. Nathan was utterly, fatally glamorous.”

State of Mind: Heartbreaking, and I’m not sure really if it’s a useful, insightful film or just leveraging the holocaust to make a dramatic tear jerker of a movie. It didn’t do what Schindler’s List does and make you see the raw horror of the mistreatment of humans. It didn’t fill you with the determination that this can never happen again, it was just a small story about three people. I don’t know. It’s not one I’ll watch again. It’s brilliantly acted by Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep but… yeah I’m not sure.

Watched movie count

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