Time to consider Leo

‘Winslet is let down by her sparring partner, DiCaprio, who is badly miscast in this role. With that podgy babyface of his, he looks like a little boy dressed up in daddy’s suit. And when the Wheelers go into battle, the film displays a stiff theatricality that betrays Mendes’s roots in the stage.’ (http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/film_reviews/article5605629.ece?openComment=true)

So says Cosmo Landesman in last w/e’s Sunday Times. Hmmm…….

I think this is unfair although I have to admit to thinking along similar lines all last year before I’d seen him as Frank Wheeler.  However, I think I was wrong. DiCaprio plays a difficult role extraordinarily well and in his rage there is none of the ‘stiff theatricality’ that Landesman is so ready to scorn at. In their major row – a row where everything is hurled and spirits are broken – DiCaprio is Winslet’s equal. In the office scenes Frank looks like a young buck next to the others: that’s because he’s supposed to. We have to be convinced that he could play this work game and win; he could make a choice to stay up there on the fifteenth floor and write memos and brochures. He could use his youthful energy to ‘good’ effect for the company if he chose to do so. The others are there because they’ve grown up there and have no choices left and Mendes uses the visual contrasts between the ravaged, hard-drinking men, and Leonardo’s younger face and body to illustrate that. He is after all, supposed to have ‘the unemphatic good looks that an advertising photographer might use to portray the discerning consumer of well-made but inexpensive merchandise (Why Pay More?).’ Just about perfect I’d have thought.

Ryan Gilbey, in the New Statesman (http://www.newstatesman.com/film/2009/01/sam-mendes-revolutionary-frank#reader-comments) writes the following:

It’s a standard gripe that DiCaprio is too boyish to play anyone not wearing short trousers and brandishing a slingshot, but like the complaint that policemen are getting younger these days, it tends to say more about the observer than the observed. DiCaprio looks as he should: like he just hit 30 and realised that he’s neither a kid nor the adult he always hoped to be. He wears defeat well.

I think this accords more with my view. What I would say is that this is not a film to see once, especially not if you are a Yates fan. You have to shed your preconceptions (first viewing) and then you notice so much more about how  successful Mendes is in conveying some of the book’s subtleties. Not all. But some…


One Response to “Time to consider Leo”

  1. I like this a lot. Feel the same way. Well done by Leo, well done by KateonYates.

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