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The Bridge of San Luis Rey
DVD disk
10.20.2005 By: Jason Adams
The Bridge of San Luis Rey order
Director:
Mary McGuckian

Actors:
Robert DeNiro
Harvey Keitel
Gabriel Byrne

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Based on Thornton Wilderís Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY follows the fatal collapsing of the titular bridge, which kills five people in the 18th century. A Franciscan monk who witnesses the catastrophe begins to question if this was Godís intended will or a senseless, random eventóan investigation which brings him under fire with superiors in the Church.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Well, this movie came out of nowhere. Considering the cast includes Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, Gabriel Byrne, F. Murray Abraham, and Kathy Bates, you think THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY wouldíve gotten a larger fanfare. Of course, it mightíve also helped if the movie didnít suck.

As the film began, the setup showed a lot of promise. DeNiroís Archbishop addresses a mourning congregation and speaks about the nature of tragedy and the examination of fate and Godís will. It seemed like a very timely and stirring device, especially considering all the disasters that have befallen the world recently. To parallel modern life would make sense, and could also explain why we need yet another adaptation of this novel. Unfortunately, THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY fails to deliver on this potential. And a lot of that has to do with the filmís lack of focus.

I havenít read the original novel (Iím a sad excuse for an English major), but I do know that the book chronicles the lives of the five victims up until they cross the fateful bridge. Director Mary McGuckian stays true to this structure but unfortunately spreads the story too thin as a result. This might work well in a novel where you have 400 pages to fill with detail, but in a two-hour movieÖnot so much. The five different storylines become hard to follow and makes it difficult to connect with any of the characters. The frame story that bookends the film, and also contains all the interesting debate about catastrophe and religion, suffers the most. Gabriel Byrneís Brother Juniper merely acts as the storyteller, and without any other depth to his character, the entire last act of the movie loses the emotional punch it should have had.

It took me 15 minutes to figure out the film takes place in Peru, which, being set during the Inquisition, is a big part of the story. Having almost all American actors speaking in regular English seems a very odd choice, especially considering the movie was shot in Spain. (Hearing Kathy Bates referred to as SeŮora is funny, but not as funny as Harvey Keitelís traditional New York dialect being spoken in 18th century Latin America). The acting itself doesnít fare much better (DeNiro phones it in once again), save for Byrne, who does what he can with his small, but emotionally important role.

The movie gets an extra star for Kathy Bates keeping her clothes on. (ABOUT SCHMIDT scarred me for life.)
THE EXTRAS
I guess New Line was counting on nobody watching this movie.

This disc is as barebones as it gets, with a Theatrical Trailer and a few Previews for other New Line Films. I know this wasnít the biggest release of the year, but this just smacks of laziness.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
With a sluggish pace, stilted acting, lackluster direction, and numerous opportunities lost, it just seems like no one involved really cared too much about THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY. Which makes it hard for me to care as well.
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