A Test Of Wills (2009)

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Overall Rating 65%
Overall Rating
Ranked #9,140
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Heidi Hahn
Heidi Hahn
William Hahn
William Hahn
GerRee Hinshaw
GerRee Hinshaw
Christopher Soren Kelly
Christopher Soren Kelly
Chris Kendall
Chris Kendall
Review by Ginose
Added: June 04, 2010
As I've said in the past, the "stage-to-screen" adaptations of stories that were, undeniably, written with only the stage in mind have a fair-share of problems making the jump to film. Some have it easier than others, either having very flexible stories, a considerable amount of action and flavor or a sprawling visual-focus that would be hard to adapt on stage to begin with. Certain stories like "Bug" or "Chepachet" had the added benefit of a small cast of characters with the focus being more on the internal-conflicts and emotions of the characters, rather than the story it was trying to tell.

Yet, here we have a film about a play-write, writing a "play" with all the passion and vigor of his life (by that, of course, I mean his insecurities and mundane existence choking him), that, somehow, has a strange physical answer to the entire problem that plagues many "stage-to-screen" films. Perhaps it's better to not expand on this, less some of the reason behind the film is lost.

Will is shit. He's a man with a slowly diminishing marriage, a horrible job in construction, no (real) friends, no direction and a total undeserved feeling of self-worth. The closest thing he has to any real social connection is his co-worker, yet the two seem more content with insulting each others short-comings in their lives, indifferent to the others opinion. As this were not sad enough, Will's wife recently discovered a porn clip on their computer, Will, mortified, attempts to cover it (knowing how pointless it is) and all of his building insecurities finally start to topple onto him, making him steadily realize all of his problems are, in no way, unrelated. Fueled by his desire to discover what's REALLY wrong in his life, he sits down and begins writing a play that's just a bit more observant than he'd like to believe.

Now, I don't know a terrible lot about "A Test of Wills", but I can guarantee that, at some point, this was conceived as a stage-play. The entire premise of it seems a bit too personal to be ignored, which is, in a large way, due to how deeply insightful it all seems. Perhaps not on the personal experiences of the writer, but it's all a bit TOO human to be ignored.

It's great to have a production so real and relatable, yes, but the fact that it touches on such experiences in such a self-aware fashion almost makes you feel like your not watching a movie so-much as a realization... it's like sitting around a rehab center and watching someone come into their big day of awareness.

It's all a very deep, human experience that takes great pride in its ability to mix its serious character-drama with trace amounts of humor, to both good and bad ends. The bigger problem with its boorish mixture is actually in the type of humor it tries to balance. It's all a bit too light-hearted and never tries to peg the characters as deeply as the actual drama, making it feel like hollow jabs at the audience, more to pull us away from the emotional-depth than anything.

A jarring problem, for me, as I was deeply moved with each revelation of Will's character, almost making me feel silly when he and his fictional counter-part have a party with a manifested porn-actress in the living room. Too much of this weak-humor bogs down some of the much more intelligent comedic exchanges, particularly the arguments between Will and his wife, making each one feel all the more detached, just as the characters seem to be becoming.

I have all kinds of praise for the performances, as everyone is excellent in their roles, primary high-points Chris Kendall as Freddie, Will's ideological foil and co-worker, providing a whole lot more of an enjoyable character then I've seen in similar roles; Heidi Hahn is also a wonderful turn as Will's wife, taking more than her fair share of scenes from William Hahn with her believable turn and fits of confusion at her husband's declining state, I'd say I almost ended up relating to her as well as I did with Will.

On that hand, the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. I could, and would, have never expected such a fantastic looking movie when I considered the condensed area in which the film takes place. Scoping gorgeous shots of landscape and painting pictures with the shot-structure after each moment of reality Will faces.

"A Test of Wills" is a beautiful movie to look at and even more gorgeous in its ability to make you feel. A bit heavy-handed and soft-minded work in the humor department makes me wish it had stayed a perpetual drama, but I don't think the final result is anything less than inspiring. I enjoyed it, and I'd recommend the hell out of it to anyone feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Griffinheart #1: Griffinheart - added 06/05/2010, 10:32 AM
Finally the Bruce Willis biography has made it to the big screen.
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