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Barry Lyndon Review

by Jamie Lammers about a year ago in movie review
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Most people love this movie, and I don't get it

This review comes from my Letterboxd profile, where I review all of the movies I see.

Look, I'm sorry, I went into this movie hoping to love it, I went into it excited to see a film that I never would have checked out had I not asked for people to suggest movies for me to see. Unfortunately, this movie bored the ever living daylights out of me in every single way. Now, this film isn't completely terrible. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, the lighting is great, the film is crafted really well in general, it catches its time period well, and the performances are overall really good. Everything else about this movie felt tedious beyond belief. There's a difference between slow-paced and straight-up slow. For me, this falls under the latter category.

Why did this movie have to be three hours long? What's the point? All that happens in the first half is the main character falls in love, runs away, falls in love, runs away again, and then somehow gets power. The second half is slightly more interesting than the second half with better character development, a better sense of story direction, and more intense and emotional moments, but by the time we got to that second half, I completely checked out. I didn't care at all about the main character. There was nothing about him or the other characters that I found interesting or unique or relatable at all. He was just a person that we followed throughout the movie and that's it. When you don't care about the main character of your whole film, that's bad enough, but when you then try to make that character purposefully dislikable in the second half to make the audience worry about his well-being because that's not how he would normally act, it makes him even more unlikable.

I didn't care about any of the conflict. There's a great emotional scene with Barry's child near the end of the film and that's pretty much it. There are three duel scenes in this movie, and they each get worse and worse. If the characters and story were better realized in the beginning of the film, the final duel would have been an intense exercise in waiting for the trigger to be pulled, but as it is, it just feels like fifteen minutes of characters standing around and waiting for someone to fire a shot. It's pathetic. And yet, somehow, I'm supposed to like this movie. Critics give it rave reviews, Letterboxd adores it, Roger Ebert gave it a perfect score -- what am I missing here?! To me, this is basically just a worse version of The Favourite. It made me just want to sit down and watch Amadeus, a film that came out at around the same time that understood how to make a personal drama feel intense. This film just feels like three hours of characters milling about and doing nothing except somehow, miraculously gaining power. I can't confirm this because I never actually caught it myself, but my mom noticed multiple times throughout the film that Barry's ponytail kept changing in length. If you can't even keep the length of someone's hair consistent, you know you've got a problem with your movie.

Listen, if you adore this movie, that's totally fine. I'm clearly in the minority, and you guys have your reasons for why it's so great. Unfortunately, neither my parents nor I share your same opinion on this one. Barry Lyndon intends to be an exercise in patience that makes the audience empathize with the character's impatience to come into power. What it becomes instead is an exercise in patience that makes the audience long for the movie to finally come to an end. What did this film deserve to earn it's three-hour-long runtime? Lord of the Rings deserved that long of a runtime. This movie did not. To whoever suggested this movie to me because of how much they loved it, I apologize that I am now completely ripping it to shreds, but I'm not gonna sit here and give imaginary praises to a film that I legitimately never want to see again.

Great, this is Lincoln all over again. I'll talk about that movie at a later date, but for now...

Letter Grade: D+

Shoot, completely forgot to mention that the score essentially feels like the same three songs played over and over again. It really gets annoying after a while.

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Jamie Lammers

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