I was very disappointed with the Richard Kelly film Southland Tales after the premiere last night at Cannes. The film has moments of brilliance, but as a whole, it is a 160-minute fever dream that does not deliver by the end. The reviews have been harsh, and hopefully Kelly can cut quite a lot… but after chatting with some distributors last night, it seems like it would need a fair amount of trimming for anyone to consider releasing it. In the film, you can tell that Kelly is a brilliant and talented man. This film simply indulges itself far too much without giving a lot back to the audience. Some highlights: The soundtrack, including a great score by Moby, is top notch. Kevin Smith has an amazing make up job that leaves him virtually unrecognizable. And, of all people, Justin Timberlake, Wallace Shawn, and John Larroquette offer the most accomplished performances.
Too many scenes almost work, and even some of them actually do. But, alas, the mythology of this film overwhelms plot points and characters. The Rock is not bad, but looks detached throughout. Meanwhile, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Seann William Scott are virtually dismissed the whole way through. With the excessive running time and outlandish mythology, one wonders if this would have been better suited as an HBO or Showtime series. I think that would have been a fascinating strategy and may have fit the vision of Richard Kelly. Then again, that also means it feels less like a film and more like TV. Take note: Southland Tales is not so much a bad film, as it is an aggravating one that comes close.
…it’s also not very good.