Eric Wilson | Nashville, TN United States | 04/03/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Steinbeck's sprawling, muscular classic, "East of Eden," is one of my all-time favorite novels, and so I approached this movie with the fear it could not live up to my expectations. Nevertheless, some great reviews and a stellar cast gave me hope.
The movie centers around Cal, played by James Dean, and his struggle to understand his "bad" nature compared to his brother Aron's good nature. The opening scenes show Cal tracking down a woman in a seedy location on the edge of Monterey, CA. Cal's frustrations fester in the atmosphere of his father's well-meaning self-righteousness, and he lets this bitterness harm his relationships with his brother and his brother's girlfriend. Family secrets begin to surface, and he is forced to face his and his parents' past.
The acting is superb, although some of the music and drama feel a bit overdone by today's standards. It's no wonder James Dean is so iconic, considering his poise, brooding demeanor, and sharp looks. And the woman who plays Kate, Cal's mother, does well in her role. These performances make it an interesting film, but they cannot overcome the liberties it takes with its source material.
As a movie, "East of Eden" is a carved-up offering of the book. The book, admittedly, would require a three-hour spectacle to capture even half of its depth and content, but it seems odd that some of the most effective elements Steinbeck delivered--Adam's early and latter confrontations with his wife; and the revealing dialogue with the Chinese servant--are cut completely. The film is a quarter-pound slice from a 16 oz. steak, only a portion of the literary "East of Eden." Many of the emotions and tensions I experienced while reading never even surfaced in the film.
Despite good intentions and strong acting, this is one movie I wish had been given a sequel, or been renamed so as not to mislead the book's devotees. It is sliced Steinbeck at best."
If you have read the book, don't bother with this movie
MDt | 06/20/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I wish that I had read the other low-star reviews prior to buying this movie. They all say exactly what I am going to say: If you're thinking to watch the movie, to see the characters from the book in full color, don't bother. I couldn't even finish the movie because it was so far off from the book. James Dean's portrayel of Cal is ridiculous, showing Cal as some sort of half-wit emo-precursor, shuffling around in and out of bushes, brows draw in what I imagine he thought was ferocity when it really just looked neanderthal. And Adam Trask... and where was Lee?? Maybe he appeared later but, as I said, I couldn't stomach James Dean's Cal, nor Aaron, nor Abra's characters in the movie so I quit watching. And, my favorite character, Sam Hamilton... well, he wasn't there either. I'm going to see if the reviews for the more modern version of 'East of Eden' are any better.
Shipping was very fast."