Thursday 29 December 2016

Reviewing 'Passengers': how reviewers get lost in 'genre-crap'

This is a lesson in how to be over-educated! 

We went to see 'Passengers'. I quite liked it. Some parts I liked a lot. I like the idea that today's movies can appear to be 'real' and modern whilst doing stuff that the oldest of stories have done, which is raise in your mind ideas to do with life and purpose of life an' all that stuff.

Anyway, I came home and read some reviews. I couldn't believe it: the two I read were jammed pack full of what I would call 'genre-crap'. This is where you, the reviewer, decide (or you've been told) what 'genre' the movie is supposed to be. Then, on that basis you tell your readers whether it succeeds or fails. So, 'Passengers' was apparently a 'rom-com' and, according to these reviewers, it was a bad rom-com or an unconvincing rom-com.

O please! 

It didn't occur to me for one moment whether it was a rom-com or not. And if it had, why would I or should I use this critic-made criterion a stick to beat the film with?! The film is a fantasy set in the future. Yes, there is a man and a woman involved. To my mind, this raised questions much more to do with survival in the life-cycle sense of the word (theirs) and also the survival of their relationship (and any of ours) in the face of a kind of hidden secret ('original sin'?) that dates from before the relationship, and again in the face of an external threat...will that bring them closer together or push them further apart? Not your classic rom-com questions at all!
So, this is neither a recommendation to rush off and see it, nor a recommendation to avoid it. I enjoyed it very much and it set me thinking about all sorts of things. Reading the reviews made me sad to think that people who write film criticisms have a very similar educational background to mine, but if all that does is dump you into a morass of genre-crap, then I fear it's wasted effort. 

Never mind the genre, feel the film!