the fresh films reviews

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All the King's Men (2006)

Steven Zailian
All the King's Men
128 minutes
Ken Lemberger
Mike Medavoy
Arnold W. Messer
Steven Zailian
Screenwriter (based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren):
Steven Zailian

Cast includes:

Willie Stark Sean Penn
Jack Burden Jude Law
Judge Irwin Anthony Hopkins
Anne Stanton Kate Winslet
Adam Stanton Mark Ruffalo
Sadie Burke Patricia Clarkson
Tiny Duffy James Gandolfini
Sugar Boy Jackie Earle Haley
Mrs. Burden Kathy Baker
Lucy Stark Talia Balsam
Willie's Father Frederic Forrest
Alex Kevin Dunn



Steven Zailian said that he didn't know what hit him when All the King's Men was released to generally negative reception (box-office and critics alike) in the fall of 2006. He seemed to have done everything right: he had pure and idealistic intentions, a strong material and the best cast you can hope for. Remaking an Academy Award winner should make for at least a decent success. Unfortunately, very few things clicked with this film.

Zailian wanted to front the political and social resonance of the book, but it all seems pompous and trite in this slow-digested hash. There are voiceovers, flash forwards, flashbacks, and an endlessness of tentatively resounding dialogue of proportions that doesn't match the framework which Zailian is able to create or which the performers are able to justify. As a result, All the King's Men slowly grows as overblown as Sean Penn's clownish performance. He headlines what must be the most thoroughly disappointing ensemble of acting for quite some time - at least if you take their amount of career silverware into account. Only Anthony Hopkins, who gives life to the only really good scene in the movie's second half, can be able to watch himself without cringing.

Much like Brian De Palma was with The Black Dahlia, Steven Zailian seems to have been infected with the idea that since the action presented takes place in the 1940s, he needs to make his film boldly noirish. When you haven't got the material for it, few things look more ridiculous - such as when Jude Law stands in silhouette on the corner watching Kate Winslet entering her apartment. 'Ooooh, she's coming home' - says poor Law's assumed face. We get the point, but there is little effect.

Copyright 10.8.2008 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang