Well, last night was a trip. As I settled in to watch 'Natural Born Killers' I had a completely different idea of what I was going to experience, but I should have known that nothing in the hands of Oliver Stone is what it seems. The more I think about this film the more I wonder if I really do like it, or if I hate it, or if I love to hate it; and it's only been a few hours. The thing is, I can see where Stone wanted to go with this, and yet I don't think he got there.
Or maybe he did and this feeling I have right now is exactly what he intended for me.
There are few directors as controversial as Oliver Stone, and few as uneven. He reminds me of a more commercial Terence Malick, a man who often allows his own passions and visions to step in the way of his better judgment, creating films that feel intimately connected to the fabric of his talent and yet somewhat off, somewhat imperfect.
‘Natural Born Killers’ is just on the cusp of greatness for me, a film that could have been something unforgettable (well, it is rather unforgettable to be completely honest) had it just had a slight tweak here or there.
Where Malick’s ‘Badlands’ took a more natural progression of themes, ‘Natural Born Killers’ jumps right into the core of this ‘message’, thrusting us into the celebrity of this story almost immediately. Maybe that is the reason I’m hesitant to call this a great film, and merely settle on it being a good one. The film just lacks that restraint needed to make the impact all the more effective. That isn’t to say that the overwhelming idea of global worship of the rebellious carnage created by these two individuals is effectively unsettling, because it is, but the film delves so deeply into that aspect that it almost turns itself into a caricature. It becomes too stylized and too self-aware, giving us large heaping piles of black comedy that the seriousness of the whole exercise becomes lost in the shuffle.
There are just too many ideas floating here, and not a single character is simple. It would be one thing to have the crazy couple at the center of the story, but on top of that you have the crazy parents and the crazy cop and the crazy reporter and by the time you’re done watching the film you’re wondering if you are, in fact, crazy.
But like I said, this film is right on the cusp of greatness because it actually has a lot going for it. In fact, I can see how every single aspect of this film would make sense, on its own. For me, ‘Natural Born Killers’ is the perfect example of too much of a good thing making something that just isn’t great.
So tomorrow brings another week to a close and ends this series for the month. The closing film to be discussed is one of my all time favorites; 'Pierrot le Fou'! I never have a problem watching and rewatching this film. I can't wait to discuss it with you!