If I were visited by Dr Emmet Brown one night, his wild eyes and crazy hair inviting me on a trip into the future to save my only son from, um, becoming a loser, I would go along for sure, and just wait for the right moment to render him unconscious and steal his time machine. Back to 1997, I would go, and beat P.T. Anderson to writing this script. It is divine, flawless, beautiful and hopeless all at the same time.
From the frogs, to the lip sync to the taming of the lady bits, there isn’t a scene that sags, a character that doesn’t ping and an actor that doesn’t deliver the performance of their careers. This was Tom Cruise’s swan-song before swan-diving off the sanity springboard, whilst Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman all delivered the performance that I would forever compare them to in each successive film.
The themes of coincidence and fate are a tricky ground for a film to attack, as you risk losing the audience’s empathy for a protagonist that fails to decisively act, but here, fate and coincidence are merely the canvas on which these lives are played, and they are such full, rounded and beautiful lives.
P.T.’s directing is as accomplished as his writing, and the pure choreography of scene after scene is pure bliss. Every viewing brings new details and insight that were missing before; and this is all before we even get on to the soundtrack. Inspiring character and dialogue alike, Aimee Mann’s music is pitch perfect each and every time it is so boldly, and loudly, used. Equally as accomplished, much to my father’s delight, this is the film that made me fall in love with Supertramp – again, these musical interludes make the film and keep the pace during its incredibly long one hundred and eighty-eight minutes.
Unfortunately, it is also the film that was responsible for me listening to Gabrielle’s Dreams (well, the first three bars as I reached for the Skip Track button on my CD walkman) more than any mortal should.
I watch this film and it still inspires me to continue to strive to write, to direct and to give the world back something as epic as this.