Some people just don't get it....
Edward R. Oneill | San Francisco, CA | 06/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okay. Most of the people complaining about this movie act as if the MOVIE failed because they fail to take it seriously.
Yes, it's three actors talking directly to the camera for 90 minutes.
Get over it.
Yes, Wallace Shawn is not exactly the person to write an obit on the death of High Culture. And one reviewer is right to say the main character is just a pretentious faker (like Shawn?!).
And no, no one appoints that character the designated mourner for Western Culture--no one but himself.
But this film is also about despotism, and how quickly the life of the mind is snuffed out by politicians who put limits on expression.
The movie is a fascinating allegory. Yes, it's conflicted. Growing up with the inheritance of The New Yorker, no less, Shawn must be terribly conflicted about Cult-chya. But so is our society as a whole.
That's the worst thing about these other reviews. Even the writers who realize the film's about the various 'brows'--highbrow, lowbrow, etc.--fail to recognize how complexly the film negotiates these choppy cultural waters.
I adore Miranda Richardson. She's the perfect self-aware victim here--brittle but not shrill (as she can be).
Mike Nichols is indeed a revelation. He can do about ten layers of irony wrapped in sarcasm underneath hatred etc.
And if you don't want to think or be challenged, see another movie.
If you watch this one in the right frame of mind, it will really touch you deeply AND make you think.
And Pauline Kael in her last interview said it was an overlooked gem. So I'm right.
I know it's childish, but it's how I feel."
Something about something
Ray Keebaugh | 05/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Funny how people revere this movie, using terms like "thought provoking" and "intelligent" and "masterpiece," but no one seems to know what it's about. The acting is impeccable, and the script seems to be about the death of an elite inteligencia and the victory of a shallow, all-surface society where nobody has to do much thinking. But the protagonist, the Mike Nichols character, though he denies understanding the "highbrow," displays the coldest and sharpest mind in the story. Compared to him, Ayn Rand was Danielle Steele!The ending is moving, and the metaphor of the designated mourner is touching, but when people try to talk about this one they stop short of being specific about what in hell it was they found so interesting. They all sound like Roger Ebert; they use a lot of the lingo of film reviews but they don't really know what the thing was about."
A cerebral, engaging, fascinating film.
Midwest Book Review | Oregon, WI USA | 03/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"David Hare's The Designated Mourner starring Mike Nichols, Miranda Richardson, and David de Keyser, is based on a play by Wallace Shawn. Told almost entirely in direct address, the film is a genuinely original, intimate, and compelling viewing experience of the sort as Wallace Shawn's earlier triumph, My Dinner with Andre (written and performed with Andre Gregory). The Designated Mourner is a cerebral, engaging, fascinating film that will be reflected upon long after the closing credits run. Color, 95 minutes."