Sunday, November 1, 2009
I have never had such mixed feelings about a movie as I did with 'Witness.' Yet I'm still giving it my highest rating. I expected huge things from this film. I've been trying to track it down for months and finally found an old VHS copy without even the original case hidden away at a local library. I'm pretty sure it had been there for a long time, but I never noticed it. Anyway, I was completely unprepared for the shift this film takes about a third of the way through. I expected it to be a nail-biting thriller, which it is for the first and final segments of the movie. But the middle is something entirely different. It's a passionate love story concealed with remote intensity by the leading characters. They don't speak to each other about deep feelings often, but the underlying connection between them is clear as day. The plot consists of this: An Amish boy and his mother (Kelly McGillis) are at a train station. The boy goes to a restroom. He witnesses a murder. A police officer named John Book (Harrison Ford) investigates the murder and takes the boy on the investigation, seeing as he was the only witness. After a surprising turn of events, Book then finds himself on the run from the killer. So he hides out in Amish country. Here, all action stops and romance blossoms between Book and the boy's mother. This is not your standard thriller, to say the least. The first twenty minutes were some of the best opening twenty minutes to a movie that I have ever seen. I thought to myself, if the story holds up, this could be one of the greatest thriller ever made. Well, it holds up, but not in the way I expected it to. The director of the movie is one admire greatly, the Australian Peter Weir. Here he does three things in one movie that many couldn't attempt to do in an entire career. He has a powerful thriller, a ravishing love story, and a clear depiction of a certain kind of lifestyle, in this case the Amish. One can really only admire the risks that 'Witness' takes. I still don't know how much I liked it. I think as time goes by I believe I'll end up loving it. Right now I'm merely intrigued-in a very big way.