It goes all-in on the foolproof chemistry, at the expense of everything else. We know from Thor: Ragnarok and the subsequent Avengers pow-wows how well Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson can spar, but their partnership only takes a film so far when the script’s in freefall and nothing else seems to have a stake.
A midnight-movie, exploitation-savvy version of this film, with Spencer chewing up the scenery like nobody’s business, might feasibly have been a camp classic. But this is Tate Taylor’s version: too nervous to thrill, too daft to upset anyone, and constantly policing how much fun it lets Spencer have.
Luckily, Wilde has brought together a pair of stars whose joy in each other’s company is impossible not to relish, and their chemistry just goofing around reaches Tina-Fey-and-Amy-Poehler levels of inspired fizz.
Raymond Cruz’s solemn performance as a skilled Mexican exorcist does the job, but the film misses a trick in not casting a more heavyweight veteran – Edward James Olmos? – to lend a little of that Max von Sydow ballast.
Even Moore seems quite stranded, given little chance to animate her character except as an unenviable technical exercise. Love is meant to be soaring across parapets, melding destinies with the fluttering elegance of a high B flat, but in Bel Canto, flat is the operative word.
Landing the perfect ending is a challenge for any such story; A Star is Born, for all its guts and pathos, peaked early. Wild Rose holds its horses, and lets Rose-Lynn soar only when she’s worked out who she is.
As parable, the film’s slippery quality catches you off guard in the best way. And it summons profound love for a character – a village idiot it would never let you describe that way – without congealing even slightly into sentimentality. It clings on to Lazzaro like the only hope in a benighted world.
The point with van Gogh is that he produced mind-boggling art while stricken with doubt that he’d failed all his life. This film is his spiritual antithesis – so recklessly confident that it paints right over him.
If this is Mitchell trying to go full-bore David Lynch – as a zine author and oddball collector, he pointedly casts Patrick Fischler, aka the diner-nightmare guy from Mulholland Drive and a sinister bureaucrat in Twin Peaks – he’s certainly not holding back.