PETER WEIR’S FEARLESS — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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Fearless is an exceptional film. I was blown away by this shattering piece of work as a 13 year old theatergoer, and over the years, I’ve easily seen this remarkable study of the human condition at least a dozen times. I probably saw this more than a dozen times, actually, as it was on HBO seemingly every day for a few years. Peter Weir’s career is a unique one; I can think of few other filmmakers who have made as many great films as he has to then just become forgotten about by the studios. Granted, he’s not likely interested in the CGI-driven idiocy that has come to dominate the mass movie market, but it’s sad to think that he’s not getting gigs because his intelligence and compassion were always massive strengths to his work. And while Fearless explores a story that many might find hard to enjoy (survivor’s guilt after a traffic plane crash), lead actor Jeff Bridges was wholly stunning, meeting the emotionally harrowing material head on, and delivering a tour de force performance of cinematic dramatics which was spawned from the pages of Rafael Yglesias’s novel of the same name (he handled the screenplay adaptation).

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Rosie Perez breaks your heart in this film; I love her and it’s a crime that she’s basically disappeared in recent years except for her small but pivotal turn in Ridley Scott’s diamond-cut gem The Counselor. In Fearless, she delivers an atomic bomb of on-screen emotion; only the most jaded person wouldn’t be touched by her character. Isabella Rossellini did her usual scene stealing, Tom Hulce and John Turturro, and John de Lancie were all very strong, and you also get to see a very young Benicio del Toro. Maurice Jarre’s reflective musical score hits both high and low notes of personal introspection, and Allen Daviau’s gleaming cinematography casts a visual spell over the viewer. The film contains one of the most surreal and expressive plane crash sequences that I can think of, and the scene with the strawberries is something I’ve never forgotten. Despite excellent reviews, an October release date, and Oscar buzz (Perez was nominated for Best Supporting Actress), Fearless died a quick commercial death, before becoming an audience favorite in the home video market. This is the sort of film I could watch any day of the week. Warner Archive released the Blu-ray in 2013.

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