Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011


It would be very easy to make a list of the worst movies of the year if one limited oneself simply to those made for the teen demographic. I'm still smarting over I Am Number Four's cheesy performances, barely there story and loud pyrotechnics. But a movie like Miral edges out the average trash because of the dashed hopes involved. Director Julian Schnabel brought his artist's sensibility to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, turning a sappy book into an achingly sensory experience. That and Before Night Falls suggested that whatever he'd have to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in this adaptation of Rula Jebreal's novel would at least be unusual and visually alluring. But Schnabel was defeated by the size of his canvas. He tried to jam decades' worth of history into two hours and in the end threw up his hands; even the story he used as his framework remained unfinished. Finally, there was his peculiar casting of Indian actress Frieda Pinto to play the title character, a passionate Palestinian schoolgirl — a choice that undercut his good intentions. The performance he got from her in no way validates it.