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Worth A Look: 32.79%
Just Average: 3.28%
Pretty Crappy: 3.28%
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4 reviews, 37 user ratings

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Across the Universe
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Great music, great visuals. What the hell more do you want?"
5 stars

As I get older I have less time and patience for the same old Hollywood stuff and more hunger for experimentation and strangeness. Isnít it supposed to be the other way around? Anyway, Julie Taymorís 'Across the Universe' is like a cold tall glass of pink lemonade in the midst of a serious drought of movie originality. I drank it down and immediately wanted seconds.

The movie will be torture for some but an orgy for the like-minded, and if you would rather do anything else than watch a fanciful dramatization of thirty-odd Beatles songs, feel free to do so. This lavish labor of love constantly walks a slender thread between masterpiece and folly, but when all is said and done, it confirms, for me, Taymorís status as a master, after her dazzling Titus and Frida.

Joe Cocker appears as three different raffish characters, Salma Hayek plays five nurses at once, Bono (looking amusingly like Robin Williams) drops in to tune in and drop out for a spacey version of ďI Am the Walrus.Ē Across the Universe feels like a Ď60s party where anything can happen, though it avoids the cameo-in-every-scene foolishness of 1978ís oafish Sgt. Pepperís Lonely Hearts Club Band film. Everything that didnít work in that notorious turkey works gorgeously here, starting with the simple boy-meets-girl story enacted by Liverpudlian welder/artist Jude (Jim Sturgess) and rich girl turned anti-war activist Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). Jude comes to America in search of his father, finds him, and proceeds to forget him, concentrating on partying with new friend Max (Joe Anderson) and falling in love with Maxís sister Lucy.

Julie Taymor isnít afraid of grand passions. She has a winsome young lesbian, named Prudence (T.V. Carpio), crooning a lonely ďI Wanna Hold Your HandĒ while staring at a cheerleader from afar. She puts Jimi and Janis together, as personified by hard-driving singer Sadie (Dana Fuchs, whose hair-raising Joplin yowls steal the movie) and guitar-crunching JoJo (Martin Luther McCoy). On some level the movie is the late Ď60s in a Cuisinart, right down to Max getting shipped off to Vietnam (after submitting to a surreal and homoerotic Army induction in which he and his fellow soldiers are divided into body parts). But Taymor believes in love and art, which in the movieís universe transcend all.

This is an alternate world where nobodyís heard of the Beatles, yet the characters express their deepest emotions through Beatles music when simple words just wonít do. The movie begins in pre-Beatles Invasion America, with the Fab Fourís early bubblegum tunes, and proceeds according to the bandís journey, ending up with a rooftop concert that recalls the Beatlesí final public performance atop Apple Records. The movie, like the music, is fairly apolitical despite its anti-war stance; its sympathy is with Jim, an artist who sees the increasingly radicalized Lucy growing away from him. The cast ó especially Jim Sturgess, a cross between Ewan MacGregor and Jake Gyllenhaal, with a voice that evokes Paul McCartney ó performs with warmth and dedication, doing justice to the music and its emotional source. It isnít a pop-cultural clutterfest like Moulin Rouge; by sticking to the Beatles it allows itself a unity of theme and tone while also dabbling in the eclectic sights and sounds of the era.

Your response to Across the Universe depends largely on your response to the Beatles. If you find them twee and precious, the fathers of a thousand sensitive emo bands, you should do your blood pressure a favor and avoid the film. But if you feel that the Beatles were the perfect sound at the right time, either pulling the world into psychedelia or accompanying it there on a parallel path, youíll receive the movie as a joyful celebration of a time when it seemed all you did need was love.

Both chaotically colorful and meticulously composed, much like the Beatles from 'Rubber Soul' onward, 'Across the Universe' is an elegy for a time past and a timeless ode to the pleasures and pains of youth. The relevant comparison here is not to 'Sgt. Pepper' the movie, but to 'Sgt. Pepper' the album.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16458&reviewer=416
originally posted: 09/30/07 20:08:07
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/23/12 Barry Jordan Bloody awful film! 1 stars
10/14/11 Matt Ferrell Great movie for any Beatles fan! 5 stars
4/05/11 fartvenugen completely craptastic and awful, horrific 1 stars
11/12/09 Someone after watching this, my sister is now in love with jim sturgess 4 stars
8/09/09 Jeff Wilder Superb music. But it would've worked better if they hadn't tried to shoehorn a plot in. 3 stars
1/08/09 Alexandra great singing, maybe a little too many visuals and all that... 4 stars
6/27/08 Michi absolutely horrible. complete waste of time for all the reasons mentioned in this review 1 stars
5/19/08 zenny fucking BRILLIANT 5 stars
5/15/08 vik sarakula one of the best movies , any type, I've seen 5 stars
3/13/08 Anthony Feor An assault on the eyes and ears of any Beatles fan 1 stars
2/24/08 SamanthaP i loved this movie, the visuals were great, and the singing was great too! 5 stars
2/24/08 mary how can anyone NOT like it!! great production 5 stars
2/18/08 Servo I guess you CAN make a horrible musical using timeless Beatles music ... who knew? 2 stars
2/13/08 MB Peter Sobczynski is an assbasket. 4 stars
2/10/08 Randy Bought the DVD today and I loved this movie. I am a Beatles fan and this movie is so cool. 5 stars
1/19/08 beau great music, and i may not have seen it if there was no evan rachel wood 4 stars
1/13/08 Joyce Evoked the era...brought tears to my eyes... 5 stars
12/12/07 William Goss Little more than a trippy checklist of covered classics and sixties archetypes. 3 stars
12/12/07 Mitzle Not even good in a weird way, horrible 1 stars
11/16/07 John I guess that i will go against the grain...I loved it...perhaps because I grew up then 5 stars
11/13/07 Carmen Crowe Touches on many events of the 1960s. Deeply involves itself in none. 2 stars
11/05/07 Bret God awful 1 stars
10/29/07 jcjs33 it'll be nominated for an Oscar..excellent flick especially for those of that era. 5 stars
10/20/07 john aster FYI "Sgt. Pepper's" wasn't the last Beatle film "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and "I Am Sam" 5 stars
10/16/07 Elizabeth Very entertaining, energetic and creative. 4 stars
10/14/07 Keystra Williams People were walking out of this. Wish I'd been one of them. Yikes. 1 stars
10/12/07 ashley love love LOVE this movie! i had the soundtrck downloaded before i saw the movie lol. 5 stars
10/12/07 D Unbelievably bad 1 stars
10/10/07 Katie Fantastic movie.....best one this year!!! 5 stars
10/07/07 Shelly interesting 4 stars
10/01/07 Elena-Beth Favorite film of the year, feel protective of it. 5 stars
9/30/07 MARY Hard to follow sometimes. I didn't always get it. 4 stars
9/28/07 Veronica I'm a designer I went to get inspried and I did! Not for the masses 5 stars
9/24/07 Heather Beatles fans will love this movie 5 stars
9/22/07 Bill Gosse Near erfect film. Thanks, Brian 5 stars
9/16/07 Ron I walked out half way through. My regret: Not leaving 1 hour earlier. 1 stars
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  14-Sep-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Feb-2008



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