OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

Knight Of Cups

A tormented hero searching for meaning in life, accompanied by a meandering voiceover, beautiful visuals and more than a hint of existential crisis and pondering of one’s place in the universe. Yes indeed – welcome to that now familiar refrain of a Terence Malick film, and this time one grounded in that most surreal of real worlds, a chunk of Santa Monica peopled by movie stars, models and other members of the ‘beautiful’ Hollywood elite.

Poster art for Knight Of CupsKnight Of Cups is an elegant and strikingly shot film that revels in a series of wonderfully shot locations – from beaches to deserts and from hedonistic parties through to intimate encounters – and will likely enrapture fans of Malick’s very individual style.

The title comes from the character in a pack of tarot cards and from – in the film at least – a Chaucerian style story about a young prince whose father had sent him to find a pearl, but who had been distracted in his quest, forgotten who he was and what he was searching for, and fallen into a deep sleep.

The prince here is Armani-suited Hollywood comedy screenwriter Rick (Christian Bale), who longs for something, without knowing quite what it is or how to try and find it. Despite wealth, looks and success, he doesn’t quite know which way to turn. The Knight Of Cups is an artist, a romantic and an adventurer, but also a tormented soul searching for meaning.

Perhaps Santa Monica is the wrong place for a search for meaning, but this Knight finds solace, distraction and hints about how he should and could embark on a new direction in his encounters with a series of beautiful women. These loving and loyal women include flighty Della (Imogen Poots); doctor Nancy (Cate Blanchett), to whom he was once married; mannered model Helen (Freida Pinto); married woman Elizabeth (Natalie Portman); stripper Karen (Teresa Palmer); and Isabel (Isabel Lucas), a young woman who may ultimately show him the way.

His quest for spiritual – and presumably sexual – enlightenment is juxtaposed by scenes which dwell on his troubled relationship with his father (Brian Dennehy) and brother (Wes Bentley).

This is a bold and ambitious film packed with striking visual moments, shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki at his very best. The camera glides around the haunted hero, with scenes intercut with striking visuals – ranging from shots of the Earth from space and desert mountain ranges through to (very amusing and engaging) underwater shots of a dog in a swimming pool – and set alongside an internal monologue by Rick.

Bale’s Rick has little actual dialogue and while a largely un-smiling Bale gives the film a serious edge, it is the women in his life who offer life, personality and the hope of direction.

– Mark Adams, Screen Daily
 

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