animaldoctor’s review published on Letterboxd:
You know what? I honestly don't love this movie. I respect it and definitely even like it, but I unfortunately can't say that I love it. I do want to talk about the positives first because they absolutely do outweigh the negatives for me. For one, the acting is fantastic on all fronts, particularly from the two leads Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Chris Stuckmann recently conducted an interview with the director of a movie called Speak in which the director said she felt that Kristen Stewart is an actress that is so good at capturing her character's feelings that you can literally read her thoughts on screen just through her eyes, a gift that you either have or you don't. Through watching this movie, I realized that Bergman absolutely has that gift. There are various close-ups of her face in this movie where I was able to gaze into her subconscious and understand EXACTLY what she was feeling just from her facial expressions and eyes. THAT is acting, and the fact that she didn't get nominated for an Oscar for this performance is absolutely baffling to me. The movie is directed very well, there are quite a few great lines of dialogue scattered throughout, and I absolutely loved the exploration of the romance between the two leads. Whenever it focused specifically on their relationship, I was pretty much glued to the screen.
The rest of the story, however, just didn't grab me at all. For a while, I was honestly confused as to which side of World War II the movie supported. Admittedly, that one might have been my fault, but it took me a while to realize that the main character of this movie was as neutral on everything as he really was. Along with that, in general, none of the other characters really sucked me in all that much. You can tell the filmmakers wanted to flesh out the two leads as much as possible and just didn't do as good of a job as they could have fleshing out the other characters, to the point where I just wasn't as interested in the climax of this movie as I should have been. There's part of me that can't even describe why I felt the characters weren't that fleshed out and why I wasn't engaged in the story, there was just nothing about it that felt important or at stake to me here. Still, I gotta admit that Casablanca is shot beautifully, has some great moments of tension and writing scattered throughout, and has absolutely terrific performances that completely make this movie for me. That being said, I honestly just don't feel this movie, but if you do, I completely understand why. This movie's a classic, and I know for a fact that I'm the crazy one for not falling head over heels for it. I really want to love this movie, but overall, I just didn't find myself that engaged.
Letter Grade: B+
I'm tempted to give this movie a B, but honestly, I'm gonna leave a little bit of wiggle room for me simply not understanding why the story wasn't engaging for me. This might be one of those movies I need to come back to in the next few years to see if I like it any better in the future. Right now, though, I'm sorry, I don't love Casablanca.