Erin Brockovich
dr. steven soderbergh
str. julia roberts, albert finney, aaron eckhart

Good versus bad, and with this great dichotomies of the universe resonate in harmony. Aliens and man, chilli and cream, Hepburn and Tracy. Hollywood has refined the language of this bloody mindedness for over thirty years, and in Erin Brockovich it decides to be understanding, sharing and caring, forget the STDs of hypocrisy and poor technique, just barge on ahead with making a movie composed of transecting parallelograms and lines meeting each other in skewed perspective.

The movie's only saving grace is Julia Roberts, a Greek goddess by way of America, always looking like she needs a gauloiset in her cheshire grin, cursing in crude French. Not even the portrayal of an American beauty queen with too-done hair and SCUD tits can distort the milky paleness of her skin, like so much marble on this deity. Roberts radiates an archetypal beauty best seen in her show of vulnerability, like a peacock's tail, the strength and softness. Maybe she is the typical Henry James character, more comfortable in Olympian Europe than kibbles & grit America. The rest of the shambling mass passes, but only with a pass mark and lacking any distinctive features.

I paid for this; I was promised, and wanted, blood. Instead I was given a host of confusing and confusing villains, with their ethical cross dressing and intellectual transvestism. The huge corporation remains a faceless entity extending only pseudopod lawyers, the larger law firm that Erin (the angel) and Ed (the lawyer) join with are shown to be heartless freaks, and even Ed is held up for trial by scene. Not that this confusion is bad. But I was promised clarity of morality! The subplot about children is unfocused. Rather than a Woody Allen directed Robin William wandering around in a fuzzy daze, Brockovich's children are abstractions, purely puppets and bit players. How can Brockovich possibly love these paedolumps when they get screened occasionally and only get offscreen mentions? Especially the baby, which might as well be a potato in this poorly made underboiled vegetable soup. Possibly the most insulting thing the director does in Brockovich is the sudden switch in the middle of the movie to a more Dogma 95 type style, complete with shaking camera. !. Oh yes. While the rest of the movie at least generates a sense of realist fiction (not too hard with newspaper stories about the 'real Erin Brockovich'), these points are not Dogma enough to be Dogma, not Hollywood enough to be Hollywood, and end up smacking of insincerity. I know what I was promised, and it was not to be patronised, insulted and slapped in the face.

Huan Tzin Goh
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toto :: cinema matters

Another Erin Brockovich review by Felicity Blake.

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