Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Let's Loop Again, Like We Did Last Summer

RV!: Looper (2012) Dir: Rian Johnson Date Released: September 28, 2012 Date Seen: October 11, 2012 Rating: 4.25/5

I knew I wanted to rewatch Looper almost immediately. I was generally impressed with the film when I first saw it at Toronto, but I was a little off-put by something that's bugged me in both of Rian Johnson's last two movies (today's a day for shucking negligible auteurist baggage, I guess). First time I saw Looper, the domestic melodrama stuff didn't stick. The farm stuff with Cid (Pierce Gagnon, an understandably limited child performer) and the flash-forward to the death of Old Joe's wife (Qing Xu) frustrated me. But upon re-view, I was much more taken with Johnson's skill as a director. I had previously admired his knack for parceling out information, even appreciably controlling what we see to at any given moment to startlingly exact degree. But the second time around, the most emotionally bruising revelations in Looper, the scenes that should make Joe's death count, worked for me. 

I think the key to appreciating every scene from when we see Old Joe's wife die to when we see Cid crush a guy with his mind, is a matter of appreciating the subtle consistency with which Johnson disseminates information. Because once Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) stops narrating his story, it often feels weird to realize: these characters have lives and personalities before Old Joe (Bruce Willis) showed up. 

Old Joe's flash-forwards, the scene where Sara (Emily Blunt) hurries into her panic room safe-thing, and the scene where Cid is revealed to be the Rainmaker all have one thing in common: they all feel weightless. In all three scenes, new pieces of information are being forced into the narrative, and it feels like they don't fit. That's a necessary effect. What's simultaneously most threatening and most promising about going back to the past to prevent what could potentially become your future is that information can go missing at any moment. So when new information shows up, especially information that's new to the film's not-so-omniscient narrator, it should feel jarring. Johnson did a great job in that regard, even if Gagnon still gets on my nerves.

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