It’s very difficult to convey just how bad this movie is. It’s got an intriguing premise and a clever plot, but these things exist for one purpose and one purpose only — to give a lot of cool actors a chance to play outlandish, somewhat sleazy “characters”, to overact and mug, just so you know that the actors aren’t really who they’re pretending to be, that they’re being “brave” to essay such roles.

Every other scene is an emotional climax, with shouting, crying, a breakdown or a fit — all those things actors love to do to show off their chops.  Here they get to show off their chops almost every minute they’re on screen.  It’s exhausting and infuriating, this non-stop display of self-indulgence.


In the middle of it all, though, is a modest miracle — Amy Adams, who actually seems to be inhabiting her role, playing her character from the inside.  She can’t redeem the awful dialogue she’s given, but she reminds you what real acting is all about and serves as a kind of rebuke to the posturing going on around her.

The New York Film Critics Circle named this the best picture of the year.  What were they thinking?

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