Rewatched Mar 13, 2012
Dylan Visvikis’s review:
This is almost the epitome of perfection in film. When Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) pitches Howard Beale (Peter Finch) as a "latter-day prophet denouncing the hypocrisy of the modern time", one must wonder if the great writer Chayefsky was referring to himself. The "Mad as Hell" speech and its immediate aftermath bring a mix of chills and tears unparalleled in film history. There is no moment like it, and one could argue there is none better. The Max/Diana/Louise romance subplot is perfectly drawn--their romantic encounters should be a blueprint for all romantic films, for all films. Diana Christensen as a character is brilliant. All the characters are rich and textured. Paddy Chayefsky created a rich corporate-dystopian universe that boldly predicted--to an eerie degree of accuracy--the sad, profit-driven, conglomerate-controlled future of the American media culture. Howard Beale is right. Not was, IS. Jensen's speech, which perfectly echoes the first part of the film, embodies the conservative economic ideology that has pervaded this country in the era of the recent recession, the cause of the sad course of events in "Margin Call"; you could replace "primal forces of nature" with "primal forces of the free market" and have a Tea Party platform paragraph. Aaron Sorkin took this film and romanticized it to make one of my favorite shows, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and noted it when he won his Oscar for my favorite film, The Social Network. Every actor and actress in this film is on the top of his or her game. Director Sidney Lumet set new standards in the use of symbolic lighting. This is a film I wish I wrote. It's entertaining and thought-provoking without being preachy or dumbing itself down. And the ending? It ties it all up, in the best possible way. If this review is rambling, well, it's because I wrote it at 2 AM.