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Legends of the Fall

Legends of the Fall
reviewed by Greta Christina

On the minus side, this is one of the most boring and predictable movies I've seen this year. An absurd melodrama with a body count comparable to Hamlet, the vast majority of the story is foreshadowed in the first 15 minutes. Legends of the Fall tells the tragic tale of the lives and loves and losses of the Ludlow family: Daddy Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) and his sons Tristan (Brad Pitt), Alfred (Aidan Quinn) and Deadmeat -- excuse me, Samuel (Henry Thomas). You can tell that Samuel is dead meat because he's the only member of the Ludlow family who's not played by someone famous. On the plus side, there are lots of close-ups of Brad Pitt. On the minus side, the movie is much, much, much too long. If it had ended about an hour before it did, it might have made a nice small movie; instead, it grinds on relentlessly, coughing up enough tragedies and strife and overwrought teeth-gnashing anguish for three piffley melodramatic Westerns. On the plus side, there are lots of shots of Brad Pitt with his shirt off. On the minus side, it's sexist to the core, with a plot that centers on the Ludlow's happy, rough-and-tumble, Iron John male bonding that gets destroyed by -- guess what? -- the sexuality and desirability of a beautiful woman. And not even an interesting beautiful woman; Susannah (Julia Ormond) is a nothing, a beautiful, cultivated, passive dishrag with nice hair who moons tediously after Brad Pitt. (Not that I can blame her). On the plus side, there are lots of shots of Brad Pitt in turn-of-the-century Western gear riding horses across the Montana landscape. On the minus side, there's an obnoxious subplot about One Stab (Gordon Tootoosis), the wise old Indian servant, a loyal family retainer who's deeply devoted to the Ludlows (and to Brad Pitt in particular -- who can blame him?) and who gets dorky lines like, "I think it was the bear's voice deep inside him." Please. On the plus side, there are lots of shots of Brad Pitt's long honey-blond hair whipping about in the wind. You be the judge.

Copyright 1995 Greta Christina. Originally published in San Francisco Bay Times.


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