Samstag, 3. Januar 2015


While it's hard to argue that a life story like Olympian athlete Louis Zamperini's is worth telling and knowing, "Unbroken" feels sorely inadequate and curiously insubstantial, prompting doubts about the validity of this production beyond being the seasonal Oscar bait.

The screenplay rather openly plays pick and choose, using flashback insertions to complicate what is essentially a series of anecdotes from the protagonist's admittedly eventful lifetime. From the troubled childhood, the participation at the Olympic Games, the weeks-long survival at sea, to the time spent at a Japanese POW camp, the depicted incidents are individually remarkable, but don't necessarily make a meaningful, compelling narrative strung together. The scenes of Zamperini in captivity, to which the majority of the film's running time is dedicated, also lack the punch of a coherent tale, jumping from one abusive episode to another. Needless to say, the often Hallmark-ready, "inspirational" dialogue doesn't help evoke empathy, nor does it enable a deeper understanding of an obviously, if two-dimensionally tough personality.  

The cast is serviceable but not exactly exciting with a charismatic and physically explosive Jack O'Connell at the center. It's probably not his fault that this portrayal never quite takes off, despite the visible efforts that went into it. On the other hand, Japanese actor Miyavi's performance as the diabolic camp officer Watanabe is flawed also on a technical level, with many of his sneers and puffs seeming caricaturally robotic.

The movie looks and sounds lovely. 11-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins' photography is unsurprisingly golden. Especially memorable is the beautifully composed and color-contrasted imagery from the oceanic sequences. Alexandre Desplat's score doesn't reach the heights of his best work but definitely enhances, enriches the emotionality of the film, particularly in the quieter scenes. Director Angelina Jolie was fine with her directorial debut "In the Land of Blood and Honey" but appears unready for a project of this scale. The story as she tells it lacks shape and rhythm, proving that even the best filmmaking intentions can only take you so far.

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