Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson in a lackluster adaptation of JM Coetzee’s ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’

Posted on September 8, 2019

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Plus, three Afghan women dealing with pregnancy, into a killer’s mind, and the super-entertaining closing film of the festival.

Spoilers ahead…

You can read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/waiting-for-the-barbarians-movie-review-baradwaj-rangan-venice-film-festival-2019/

Ciro Guerra’s Waiting for the Barbarians (English, Mongolian), based on JM Coetzee’s novel (he wrote the screenplay, too), is a prime slab of Oscar bait, a prestige production if there ever was one. A high-profile cast (Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp, Robert Pattinson) brings to life the story of a principled man (Rylance) in charge of an isolated frontier settlement at the border of a desert. The “barbarians” of the title are the original inhabitants of this place, the nomadic tribes that have now been driven to the mountains. When Depp’s sadistic colonel makes a visit and tortures these barbarians, the protagonist seeks some kind of atonement by helping a woman return to her tribe. This broken woman, blind and covered with scars, becomes a symbol of the brutalities of the British Empire. Yes, this is that type of movie. We’re meant to stroke our chins thoughtfully and ponder: So who, really, is the barbarian! What was elliptical and textured on the page becomes plodding and simplistic on screen. The film is watchable. It has warmth. But it never catches fire.

Continued at the link above.

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