By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) -
Australian director Peter Weir has an eye for stories (Gallipoli, Dead Poets Society), and this may be one of his most epic. The Year of Living Dangerously is a nominal romance film set in the chaotic days of Indonesian dictator Sukarno’s rise to power and eventual conflict with communist rebels. Mel Gibson is an Australian reporter trying to get a career-making scoop who has to balance that against a developing relationship with Sigourney Weaver’s character, who may be a spy.
The heart and soul of the film is Linda Hunt’s character, Billy, an Indonesian photographer and activist who also happens to be a dwarf. Linda Hunt’s performance is remarkable, particularly because she’s neither male nor Indonesian.
Although we’re guessing one of those wasn’t too much of a stretch
She won the only acting Oscar for someone straight-facedly playing someone of the opposite sex, and she deserves it. You can see all of the pain and struggle ofIndonesia’s nascence and continuing struggles with its colonial history in his/her eyes, putting this movie in pretty rarefied heights as far as portraying history with an indigenous culture’s perspective.
Not so much.
Another tip of the glass to Maurice Jarre’s score, which combines Indonesian music with 80s techno for some reason, but rocks balls anyway.
You might want to take some swigs during most of the romantic subplot, though. Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver do pretty good jobs, but for some reason there’s very little chemistry there.
Perhaps Gibson’s attitude towards women?
I understand the necessity of the romance to the story, especially in the light of Billy’s feelings towards Weaver’s character, but it’s intensity is never high enough to make us really care… which is the key ingredient to taking a great film to be one of the best… so close, The Year of Living Dangerously.
Watch it. Best transsexual performance ever (isn’t that enough of a selling point?)
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: every time somebody takes a picture
Take a drink: every time someone says Communist or some variation thereof
Take a drink: every time somebody says “story”