I was faced with a choice, at a difficult age. Would I write a book, or should I take to the stage

Thursday, December 4

Filmica's Top 10 films of 2003 continued
In case you've just joined me, this be an occasional series where I count down to Filmica's top film of 2003. There is something a little bit futile about this since I know that Dogville is coming out on Boxing Day and I'm quite sure room will have to be made in the Top 10 for it. However, I can't possibly wait that long to do my list. Lilja-4-Ever (see below) will just have to be bumped down to number 11, that's all.

Now, where was I. About Schmidt. I really liked this one very much. Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) has just lost his job (via retirement) and his wife (via her death) after many years of taking both for granted. Schmidt's daughter, played by Hope Davis, is marrying below her station (in Schmidt's view), compunding his sense that the world has moved on from him without his permission. The film is marbled with morbid humour and touches of realism which I thought were genuinely touching and honest. Studiously avoiding the potential Hollywood emotional cliches and overbaked caricature that would frequently accompany a story of this kind, Alexander Payne (who directed Election, Reese Witherspoon's last decent film) has proffered a subtle and restrained product which I found to be rather affecting. Particularly the last scene, which was almost untenably bittersweet.

I must say, though, that altogether too much has been made of the World Vision aspect of this film. That's not really what it was about at all.


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