Monday, April 03, 2006

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

First off, this is a wonderful movie to watch. I mean that in the literal sense -- the act of looking at this film is joyful. The Coen brothers, working with more money than they had ever worked with at that point, let their prodigious visual imaginations run berserk, giving us a film that, from a visual standpoint, is without compare. And it's precisely that visual dynamism that makes The Hudsucker Proxy a successful film -- that is to say, the Coens' visual creativity bleeds out and infects the other aspects of the film. The Coens are the rare filmmaker for whom heavy stylization feeds their imaginations rather than stifling it. Instead inventing a place and putting characters into it, they're truly inventing a world in which these characters have always lived and always will. The characters are thus defined by the environment instead of being swallowed up in it (a la V for Vendetta -- can you imagine the latter film tossing in something like Tim Robbins's incongruous ballet dream?), so that the meticulous craftsmanship feels organic even as it's obviously artifice. It helps, too, that the film is perfectly cast -- Tim Robbins makes for an appealingly unflappable sucker, and Jennifer Jason Leigh was born to be the hard-bitten fast-talker she plays here. Narratively, the film is a bit weak, which honestly isn't too surprising -- it moves so quickly that it more or less has burn itself out in the midstretch. It rallies at the end, though, for a ballsy and genuinely surprising leap into the spiritual, complete with a literal deus ex machina and a rumination on the divinity of forgiveness. (There's also some tantalizing class issues introduced near the beginning that go relatively unexplored, sadly.) It's not the Coens's best work, but it is probably their most underrated.

Grade: B


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home