Witness is a beautifully filmed love story that manages to mix excitement, romance, and a realistic fish-out-of-water tale into a movie that was obviously meant to garner multiple Oscar nominations (which it did, including Harrison Ford’s only Best Actor nomination for the role of John Book). It also made my mother hesitant to let me go alone to a public restroom when I was young.
My family briefly considered joining the Amish several years ago, and, while we decided their lifestyle is not for us, I have the deepest respect for their way of life. Witness does a good job of presenting the Amish lifestyle in a way that makes it seem quaint but not backwards, simply different from ours. The cinematography and direction are lovely, particularly the barn-raising scene midway through, and help to make up for a few boring moments.
As with Inkheart, though, the end just isn’t very satisfying, mainly because it muddles the film’s message. Either Rachel should have left the Amish to go with Book, showing that love can overcome any barrier, or she should have remained faithful to her beliefs, showing faith and normalcy were more important to her than a sinful relationship. But allowing Rachel to act on her temptations (we can assume from the passionate kissing scene in the field), but not enough to go all the way and leave, just messes it up. It may be “realistic” in not having such a question be black or white, but the way it is done makes it seem that she took a bite of cake and will now live in denial of ever wanting to have the rest. But that’s just me. The nude scene and the frequent (though comparatively restrained) language also take away from the film’s entertainment and moral value.
Best line: (a tourist, after Book says something very un-Amish to her) “Did you hear what that A-mish said to me?”Artistry: 7 Characters/Actors: 7 Entertainment: 5 Visual Effects: 4 Originality: 5 Watchability: 4 Other (nudity and language): -5 TOTAL: 27 out of 60
Tomorrow: #350: 12 Angry Men
© 2014 S. G. Liput