In essence, the new movie “Across the Universe” is a predictable plot turned amazing. There is nothing wholly unique about the movie’s anti-war message; however, it is displayed using breathtaking music, innovative cinematography and fantastic choreography.
“Across the Universe” tells the love story of Jude (Jim Sturgess), a Liverpool dockworker who travels to America in search of his father. He meets Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), and, the pair get involved with the anti-war protests that flooded the streets of Greenwich Village during the 1960s. Wood is perfect as Lucy, and the onscreen chemistry between her and Jim Sturgess takes the focus away from the mediocre plot, allowing the audience to connect with the film. This movie goes past just the guts and glory of the normal love story and delivers the audience a mind-bending look at a lost generation through the words and music of The Beatles.
The film features a strong supporting cast of unique characters who help to frame the lovers while they grow and change as the war protests escalate from peaceful meetings to violent demonstrations. The amazing thing about the supporting cast is that no character fits into a basic stereotype – the writers truly created a world of their own. The virtually unknown actors includes musicians Martin Luther and Dana Fuchs, television’s Eddie Izzard (“The Riches”) and Joe Anderson (“Becoming Jane.”)
The movie musical features about 20 songs by The Beatles performed by the characters including “Hey Jude,” “Let It Be,” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” The characters don’t say much – they leave it to the music to give to life what they are going through. Each song is used both literally and figuratively, giving the audience a chance to feel a close relationship with the characters. Reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” the music fits perfectly, conveying such strong feelings on screen that you almost want to get up and dance along in the aisles.
What the music does not say is spoken loud and clear through dance and the use of contrasting colors that serve to paint a picture of how the characters view themselves and others at different points in their lives. The visual aspects of the movie are mesmerizing, giving the audience a kaleidoscopic vision of the anti-war movement of the 1960s, and every scene turns into a new experience through the use of different camera angles. No one scene looks very much like another, and they are virtually incomparable to those of any musical/film that have come before it.
Directed by Julie Taymor (“Frida”) and written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (“The Commitments”), the overall plot of “Across the Universe” seems a bit messy. Random events cluttered the film at times, making it more reminiscent of the first draft of a college thesis than a movie script. In addition, the ending is very predictable. Nonetheless, the predictable ending is incredibly done and manages to create a good closing to a movie whose writers were certainly thinking outside of the box.
“Across the Universe” opens nationwide on Sept. 21.