Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Across The Universe

Across the Universe was a DVD that I simply had to own yet it has been left on the shelf ignored and unwatched since Christmas Day.  The fact that I have decided to get stuck into my DVD backlog during the first heat wave in years speaks volumes about my nature.
I have to be honest and admit that while I am a fan of The Beatles I bought the DVD for Joe Anderson.  The River has a lot to answer for.
PLOT:  Jude (Jim Sturgess) a Liverpool born dock worker travels to America to find his long lost father.  Instead of his father Jude finds and befriends college dropout Max (Joe Anderson) and the two travel to New York together.  They are soon joined by Max’s sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) who quickly falls in love with Jude.  The friends carefree lives are interrupted when Max is conscripted into the army and sent to Vietnam, Lucy joins an anti-war movement and Jude faces deportation.  END PLOT
The script of Across the Universe isn’t as strong as it should have been.  When the attention is focused on the three leads of Jude, Max and Lucy the film flows very well however far too much emphasis is placed on the supporting characters of Sadie (Dana Fuchs) and Jo-Jo (Martin Luther).  Fuchs and Luther are fine but their extended subplot and musical numbers makes the film feel unnecessary bloated.
Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson and Evan Rachel Wood are excellent and although they are never going to be in the running for a Grammy award they can all hold a tune.  Sturgess and Anderson have fantastic chemistry which is sorely missed when the characters are separated halfway through the film.
The songs are all memorable although the set pieces are hit and miss and range from the fun With A Little Help From My Friends to the LSD induced hallucination of I am a Walrus.  The cameos from Bono and Eddie Izzard help to emphasise the craziness of the drug fuelled randomness.
I am that contrary I purchased the soundtrack long before I got around to watching the film and songs like Hey Jude and Strawberry Fields are listened to quite frequently.  The Beatles versions are also on there too.
I cannot pretend to be a diehard fan of The Beatles so I didn’t recognise several of the songs and I know that there were plenty of little jokes that went straight over my head.
Across the Universe started off strong but then seemed descend into a colourful mess.  In amongst the chaos the film appeared to be attempting to make a political statement.  It failed.
Across the Universe is a film that requires a second viewing before I can make a call on whether or not I actually liked it.  The problem is a second viewing feels like too much effort – I want to watch the Jude, Max and Lucy scenes and edit out everyone else.
I will take the cowards way out and give Across the Universe a 5/10.  If you are a fan of The Beatles watch at your own risk.


  1. This got lots of praise when it came out and I was slightly interested in seeing it, but the fact that I'm not exactly a massive Beatles fan made me lose all interest in it.

    Don't get me wrong, I like me some Beatles - but a whole movie filled with their music? Yikes! :)

    1. The songs were mostly good but the film doesn't quite work. There isn't enough focus on the three leads and as they were really likeable this annoyed me!

      K :-)

  2. I was letdown by this as a film. The wife and I were really looking foward to it.

    That being said on video we've watched our favorite segments countless times usually after a bit of drinking, we are strange like that.

    Strawberry Fields and Happiness Is a Warm Gun are probably my favorites.

    1. I agree - it works better in segments.

      I loved Strawberry Fields and I thought the funeral scene with Let It Be was very well done too.

      It probably should have been better.

      K :-)

  3. I admit I am a huge Beatles fan and I can defintiely see where the "inside Beatles jokes" are overlooked and I think that hurts the film a bit.
    This film does do justice to the ten years of the Beatles and the American history that coincides with it. The plot was good - filled with plotlines based on actual events, but some scenes felt like they were just added for the sake of it. While I love I am the Walrus and Mr Kite - they didn't add much to the story except like you said to emphasize the craziness. To intertwine Vietnam and the Detroit Riots was brilliant - war at home and away. The use of the 1968 Columbia University Protests as the precipice of Lucy and Jude works well. (And the fact Jude's recently discovered GI Amrican father is the only one who bails him out breaks my heart).
    I agree about the supporting cast - and wish there was more Prudence. I really think her story could have been developed more. Julie Taymor did a fabulous job choreographing and dreaming up scenes (like Max's induction into the army).
    Overall - I still liked it - but that is purely from my love of the Beatles.