Alan J. Pakula
For me, the film never managed to spark a serious concern for the characters. I realized the situations were intense and dramatic, I just didnít feel that anyone was ever in any real danger. Since her plight was the driving force in the film, it was essential that the audience be involved with what she was going through. Unfortunately, the story was told so matter-of-factly that the intensity didnít resonate with the audience. It might have been a deficiency with the director since many of the supposed dramatic scenes either dragged on or never climaxed to an accelerated heart rate or a gasp from the viewer. There is one scene involving a murder in a hotel room and we watched the killer watch the victim for almost five minutes and then all we see to end the scene is blood splatter on the TV. It just didnít work.
Julia went through some rough roles there for a while when she was trying to convince audiences she could play the tough damsel in distress. Iím not saying she canít play that role, but I am saying she hasnít always played it well. Some times her reactions werenít enough or they were misplaced and ill-timed. She witnesses a car explosion in which her lover dies and we barely get a shocked look on her face. Iím pretty sure that if a car exploded anywhere near me, Iíd be pretty freaked out. Denzel is his normal cool self and the rest of the cast does well with what they have.
THE PELICAN BRIEF isnít a bad film, itís just very bland. I like the story and the idea that an average person could solve a mystery involving the White House and then be hunted for it. But the film could have used some spice with the directing and a few more edits in order to speed things up and keep the film moving.