Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Hawk is Dying

2006 Sundance Film Festival

★ ★ ★
Paul Giamatti plays George Gattling, a single guy who owns an auto upholstery store and lives with his divorced sister Precious (Rusty Schwimmer) and her mentally handicapped son Fred (Michael Pitt). George is infatuated with birds of prey and is almost single-mindedly committed to training one. However, his past efforts have failed, much to his public embarassment, and the movie opens with Fred holding a private funeral for a recently deceased hawk.

George and Fred finally trap another bird, this an exquisite red-tailed hawk. His challenge is to eat so it will stay alive, no small challenge to a wild hawk suddenly in captivity. Saving the hawk becomes an objective Gattling tenaciously clings to despite tragic circumstances he is forced to endure. This is one plum role for Giamatti and he plays it to perfection. The movie might not play to a large audience, but Giamatti’s performance is once-again Oscar worthy.

Without getting too esoteric, the Hawk is Dying is a powerful metaphor. We do find things—hobbies, interests, relationships and activities—that bring passion to our lives, define who we are and give us a reason to endure. These pursuits can take on a life of their own, providing almost mystical enchantment and meaning to our otherwise humdrum existence.

One can argue that Hawk moves slowly, that there isn’t any meaningful action, that the relationships are … unusual. All those things are true. This is a flawed movie and certaily open to criticism. But Giamatti is so good, and his relationship to the hawk is so compelling, that it’s a movie you won’t want to miss.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, once-again shouldn't be hyphonated.

The actors' relationship aren't usual.

Dumb review. Just bad.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

1. Thank you Miss Mlodzik (she was my 4th grade English teacher). You are right, that was a typo. Hey, it's a blog, not the NY Times!

2. I think that's what I said, although maybe my scintillating use of the ellipsis threw you off.

3. You may be right. In contrast, your review of my review was insightful, articulate and well-supported.

6:22 PM  

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