Simple Men

SIMPLE MEN. 1992

Director: Hal Hartley

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Simple Men should've been titled Stupid Script, then Hal Hartley could more credibly pretend it's stupid on purpose.

Long redundant patches of half-comic childishly-philosophical improbable dialog predominates. It's a film that jabbers at you, telling instead of showing. It made me think of a junior high school-generated version of Waiting for Godot.

There's no story to speak of, & the zombified monotone acting whether or not intentional is unimpressive. Some people like the circular repetitions of Hartley dialog, but I can't imagine why anyone would. When each & every character speaks in the same voice in the same manner about the same things, it's too obvious the author is ranting & the characters have no individuation.

There's one scene I liked, & I suspect it's because everyone stopped talking & the shittiest dialog ever concocted was no longer assaulting my ears. There's a hysterically funny dance sequence that seems half a spoof on MTV music videos but verges on being a set of dance moves some goofy hicks at a roadside bar might really attempt.

Also somewhat praiseworthy is the color pallet of the film, just barely unlikely enough to skew reality into a state of hyper-realism. It can also most certainly be said that Hal Hartley does not make Hollywood junk. It's Indie Indie Indie all the way, & if one has the correct pompous & self-righteous sentiments against commercial garbage, indie garbage will be ever so rewarding.

It's too bad the script is such an affected self-important load of gibberish, as the actors might otherwise have been interesting. The main simple men are two brothers (Robert Burke & Bill Sage) on something of an inert quest to find their outlaw father, who in his cameo near the end turns out to be nobody worth finding. The brothers find new girlfriends along the way (Karen Silas & Elina Lowensohn) but only to generate more ridiculous dialog.

The always capable Martin Donovan sneaks into the film to steal a few easily stolen scenes, but his presence isn't very important. There's a tenderness about the very last scene (where again things work because everyone stops talking) & if that ending had actually fit the film, it would've been a totally 'nother movie, & a better one by far. Still, the last thirty seconds of thye piece almost tricked me into thinking, "Well, that wasn't so bad after all," except then recollection of the rest of this waste of time returned to memory.
copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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