Rampart, a new film by Oren Moverman starring absolutely amazing Woody Harrelson, is one of the most underrated movies of the year, thus I have decided that instead of writing a usual review, I am just going to focus on making you go and see it yourself. So, here are the 3 reasons why instead of reading about 5 reasons to see it, you should already be on your way to the cinema:
1. Woody Harrelson
I was blind, but now I see. This guy, looking more like my father than a celebrity to have a poster of on the wall, delivers one of the most amazing performances of the decade. If you can think of adjectives that are synonyms of ‘outstanding’, then Woody Harrelson is all of them and more.
2011 was a year filled with new types of cinematic sociopaths. We had Shame with Michael Fassbender, in which he plays a sexoholic, seeking escapism in temporary pleasures.Then, we had Drive, in which Ryan Gosling plays a nameless stuntman, who not only is socially awkward but also acts in the most cold hearted way. Both of these characters tend to treat people like objects- Brandon doesn’t see women anymore, he only sees what they can offer him sexually and the driver is simple fearless having no understanding of danger and death. However, both Brandon and the driver care more about women in their lives than anything else- one is involved in love-hate relation with his sister, and the other sacrifies his life to protect his neighbour. Because their crimes are the projects of love, we sympathise with them, we want them to win. And then we have ‘Date-Rape Dave’ from Rampart.
Dave is objectively bad. He is a chauvinist, racist and he beats up criminals to death. He is a stereotypical bad cop, just thousand times more threatening. The way he deals with problems is not what we nowadays call ‘humane’ or ‘civilised’. He believes in politics of hard hand and he doesn’t give a shit about the rules and laws.
At home, Dave is a father of two daughters whom he has with two sisters. They all live together in this society within the society they created, in which, despite the fact of his conservative, patriarchal views, Dave is rather ignored. The two women don’t love him anymore and although he is trying hard to have a good relationship with his daughters, they are already reaching the age in which his opinion doesn’t matter. Dave fights for the family to stay together, fights hard and fights against the family’s will. Although for him, the home is the shelter, his ideals turn out to be delusive.
This complicated family situation evolves into another conflict from in which Dave doesn’t necessarily proves himself. His difficult character, politically incorrect behaviours and morally wrong acts make them easy to blame for all the bad things that happen to him. And yet, thanks to Woody Harrelson’s amazing performance, not only do we forgive Dave, but we also want Dave to win, even if it means complete collapse of what we personally believe in.
Woody Harrelson plays an asshole, however, although we don’t agree with his morales, we see that there is a moral skeleton that he bases his priorities on. He is not bad because he wants to have fun. He acts against our modern standard. He is a dinosaur rather than an evil person. Also, Dave is incredibly charismatic. Yes, it is a sinister charm, but it is hypnotising.
The performance itself is simply breathtaking and although I enjoyed George Clooney in the Descendants and Jean Dujardin in the Artist, I believe that Woody Harrelson beats them both. While people are crying that Ryan Gosling wasn’t nominated for Drive, I can’t believe that Rampart passed so unnoticed. It is one of the most amazing performances of the year and I hope it will still get the deserved recognition.
2. Oren Moverman
When I was reading users’ reviews on IMDb to find out why exactly people don’t like Rampart as much as they should, I found out that one of the most often appearing argument is the directing itself. The audience saw some of the scenes confusing in presentation, and others completely unneeded. One scene that was repetitively mentioned in all of the negative reviews was the club scene, in which Dave, completely depressed and drugged enters a club in order to loose himself of chaos and noise of sounds and colours. This environment seems so unsuitable for the protagonist that for a second, we feel completely lost. Why would he even go there, we wonder. The way the scene is shot is almost painful to watch. The screen screams at us in epileptic light and the club noise drills through every cell of our brain. Even if we were to forget for the duration of the scene, what the main story is, the pain painted on Dave’s face when he tries to blend in with the narcotised crowd, won’t ever let us stop suffer with him. It is an experience similar to that from Enter the Void by Gaspar Noe, and although it is painful experience, it is mainly an unforgettable one.
Oven Moverman’s directing skills are best presented in the scenes where music and visuals are combined. In one of them Dave meets up with a woman he meets at the bar. Their conversation takes place in a flamenco club, but throughout the duration of the scene, it is almost a fight for domination between the flamenco dance and our characters’ dialogue. We follow both the intensity of the conversation as well as the intense eroticism of this tragic dance. Both combined once again create a beautiful, but also an unforgettable moment in film, which is like a music video in a movie- both musically and visually perfect.
Moverman’s camera often balances between the traditional shots we often see in high budget independent cinema and more difficult to get used to, almost arthouse ones. He often changes the camera angles, giving us the insight to the characters’ minds and hearts when showing the world as they see it just so he can provide us with more voyeuristic point of view. He lets us be the part of the scene, where the camera is situation inside the actual action, however, we often feel banned from the set watching the images almost hidden in between the bushes, or glimpsing from around the corner.
We see film twice- from an active and passive point of view and although it is highly experimental method of character presentation, I believe it works. I was able to understand Dave and to see both what he sees and also, what the camera he is caught on, sees. This way of shooting enabled me to feel the intimacy of the atmosphere as well as the moral objectiveness of the events told. No matter how unique and subjective the directing is in Rampart, Moverman does is not extravagantly open with his private judgements leaving Dave in our hands.
3. Dickon Hinchliffe
It’s been some time now since the soundtrack that is filled with songs I have already heard in other movies (Amores Perros) manages to sound so fresh because of the score that surrounds it. The soundtrack for Rampart is like the soundtrack for Requiem for a Dream- it tells a story within a story and because of it, the film has such a great impact on the watcher. Mexican hip hop mixed with slow, slightly sentimental score empathises the ambiguity of the story. Not only is it a background for the events shown on the screen, but it is as strong a part of it as every other aspect I have analysed in this post.
Although Dicon Hinchliffe is a new name for me and I am personally not that familiar with his works, because of the Rampart I will make sure to listen to more of his compositions. Rampart soundtrack (which below I leave the link to) is definitely one to remember.
If you read the last words of this review, I hope you at least booked the tickets for the next screening of it.
And if you want to know what NOT TO SEE this weekend, click here