Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)


    I'm willing to admit that for somebody who loves movies as much as I do, I suffer from an unfortunate bout of attention deficiency. The catalogue for how many movies I haven't purposefully finished or fell asleep through is ever-growing. It is a flaw that I am still working on. Yet, I was able to recently sit through Ingmar Bergman's 5-hour long Fanny And Alexander.  So, sometimes I am not to blame, right? Sometimes, it just so happens that a film fails to captivate my mind. That is the case with Laura, seriously one of the most boring films I've ever come across. 
  I wished that Laura was just plainly a bad film, then I could have something to latch onto. But it is not so simple. I recognize its achievements. Its cinematography is impeccable and  it does boast one of the most beautiful sirens to ever grace the silver screen: Gene Tierney. However, for a film classified as a noir, nothing much really happens in Laura. The film opens up with a detective, Mark, making his rounds to question the suspects in the murder of Laura, a successful advertising exec. The suspects include Waldo, a famous newspaper columnist who took Laura under his wing; Laura's dallying fiance, Shelly; Laura's aunt Ann, who herself is involved with Shelly; and Bessie, Laura's housekeeper. Over time (really just two days), Detective Mark falls in love with Laura. He stays in her apartment one night, where he is greeted by the figure of Laura. Laura is revealed to be alive and well. She was not dead but away in the country to think over her upcoming marriage. Now, Mark has to figure out who the murder victim really is and who committed the heinous crime.
  I dozed off several times during the film, and only in the second half. I would be jolted awake and rewind to the last checkpoint. This film is a snooze-fest. Everything falls too neatly into place. The dialogue is crappy and too predictable. Furthermore, I didn't buy Mark falling in love with the supposedly-dead Laura for one goddamn second. Originally, this is what attracted me to the film as I found that aspect of the story fascinating. Falling in love with a dead woman? Movie gold! But Mark is played by the wooden Dana Andrews and his growing love for Laura is never properly registered. Heck, another character had to state that Mark was falling in love with a dead woman. Is this not a perfect example of a film telling but not showing? Plus, the twist happens about halfway through the film and nothing else following is able to top it or live up to it. For a noir film, there is no suspense, not even the ending which so desperately gives a feeble attempt at doing so. But Andrews is not the only lifeless character in the film. The villain is possibly one of the most obvious and laughable ones I've encountered in the noir realm. Thankfully, Gene Tierney brings a sweet warmth to Laura and Vincent Price provides some comic undertones to his character of Shelly. Even so, their characters are very one-dimensional. Yet, what frustrates me more in the film is how a detective, a man of the law would allow suspects in the case to wander around freely in the murder victim's apartment. And why the heck would you let it be revealed that Laura is alive and well to all of the suspects?It's absurd, really.
   I think fans of the noir genre will actually enjoy Laura. It has all the necessary noir archetypes. But I found neither humor, suspense, drama,  or romance in the film. Even the mystery aspect of the story is too shabby. Ultimately, I think Laura is an overrated film and I have no idea what makes it so revered even to this day. Laura, what are u doin'? Laura, stahp~

Ludovico Rating

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