Reviewed Feb 04, 2012
Mitchell Beaupre’s review:
In order to let this film be released theatrically, Harvey Weinstein forced writer/director Wayne Kramer to cut it down from it's original 140 minute running time to around 110. These substantial edits are obvious when watching the film, because when it's over you realize that there is so much missing from these characters. We get little glimpses into everyone's lives, but we never get enough to latch onto them or care about the transition they go through during the film.
Random events happen (like a character we knew next to nothing about being responsible for a brutal murder) that make no sense and no impact, characters go through significant arcs that feel forced and undeveloped because we only see them for three scenes and in the end it's just another "everyone's connected" kind of story that feels so contrived, preachy and melodramatic. The performances suffer big time from the lack of any believable or interesting character development, but a few of the actors (Jim Sturgess and Cliff Curtis, in particular) do get a moment or two to shine, but nothing to make much of an impression.
In the end, it's clear that a lot was cut from this film and the characters suffer tremendously, as does the film itself. I mean fuck, Alice Braga was billed seventh (which is big in such a large ensemble drama) and she has one brief scene where she has maybe five lines. It's such a shame seeing one of my favorite, underrated actresses so underused; same goes for Lizzy Caplan who I didn't even know was in it. Overall, a painful mess.