It had most of the stuff critically acclaimed movies are made of; slick cinematography, a credible hick-David taking on moneyed Southern Goliaths premise, a star studded cast with some heavyweights in Sean Penn and Anthony Hopkins.
Sad to say, but what could have been one of the most watchable movies of the year was let down by a rather weak script and disjointed storyline. Storytelling was choppy and frankly, most of the acting job was done by the brilliant Sean Penn and the elegantly understated Jude Law.
Penn as a Louisiana small town parish treasurer-turned-governor was convincing in all his cracker glory. It was hard to ignore his compellling presence as Governor Stark. Playing perfect foil as idealistic reporter Jack Burden was Jude Law whose nuanced performance intrigued me.
Kate Winslet as Anna Stanton and Mark Rufallo as her idealistic do-gooder doctor brother Adam are both washouts. Quite forgettable performances here. James Gandolfini didn’t make an impact as “Tiny” but thankfully Six Feet Under’s Patricia Clarkson showed some acting chops as Sadie Burke, lover cum aide to Penn’s Stark.
The past history of the Stanton siblings and Burden is not adequately fleshed out, nor is Adam Stanton’s voluntary exile is in a shabby apartment.What a waste of talent Anthony Hopkins was. This towering thespian with piercing blue eyes is a showstopper in any movie, and they reduce him to a bare-bones role here.
The Louisiana balmy surroundings add to the overall beauty of the movie, but couldn’t save it from the lofty promise of the title.
Could have been a much better offering from Steven Zaillian, who had in the past given such respectable stuff as A Civil Action, Hannibal and Schindler’s List.