The Manchurian Candidate


Hmmm. It’s times like these that you wonder why Mark and I watch films together. I was completely spellbound during The Manchurian Candidate. Here was a tightly woven thriller that didn’t overstay its welcome, nor signpost its every move like any other mainstream suspense would. Mark, however, turned to me at the end of the film and stated that he was completely bored the entire time and was fully prepared to leave at any moment.

The Manchurian CandidateI’m not actually familiar with much of Jonathan Demme’s work. Of course I have seen The Silence Of The Lambs, and The Manchurian Candidate certainly shares a similar style to that classic. It never looks as though they have spent much time on the cinematography, the framing always being a simple ‘point and shoot’ without all the extra tricky manoeuvres other big budget thrillers would utilise. This raw technique works very well, and allows us to focus on the performances almost in isolation.

Denzel Washington does some great work here, and I believe that his winning an Oscar has allowed him to take Ben Marco to places he otherwise wouldn’t have been able. His character is very unstable as far as leading roles go, and his actions reek of perpetual uncertainty, something which makes this film all the more exciting.

Liev Schreiber is cast well within his range here. There’s something vaguely unsettling about his visage, which is why he gets roles such as this and that of Cotton Weary in Scream and Scream 2. Meryl Streep is fantastic, showing just how long she has been in this game.

I haven’t seen the original film, but this remake certainly looks very seventies at times. The heavily rich colours and the occasionally overly lit scenes give a very old school feel to this film, even though it has been pushed forward to the first Gulf War.

Just about the only thing I agree with Mark about is the opening scene. What on earth was going on there? I kept getting the feeling that I was missing something

Rating: 3.5 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 21st March 2005
Hoopla Factor: 3.5 stars

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