This is another example of a great director making bad films. Personally I consider Italian director, Giuseppe Tornatore, to be an A grade director. That doesn't mean that I love all of his films, because I do not, but the craftsmanship in all of his films is exemplary. He has more of a classical style where he puts great importance on the image to tell his story. His camera moves and framing are precise and beautiful, and the editing in his films is once again of an old school style and are all the better for it. As well as all of this, Tornatore has an amazing relationship with composer Ennio Morricone, and the maestro always seems to do his best work when working with Tornatore. I mentioned that I don't always love Tornatore's films (but respect the artistry of them), and I must say that I prefer less his nostalgia pieces (with the exception of his masterpiece “Cinema Paradiso”), and really love his nastier, more genre focused films like “The Unknown Woman” and “The Best Offer”. Originally when “Correspondence” was announced, I mistakenly thought that it was another genre piece and got immediately excited for it, but when the first trailer arrived, I suddenly realised that I had made the mistake and what was coming was a romantic film. Whilst I was disappointed, this was still a new film from Giuseppe Tornatore, so I was still eagerly anticipating it. When I finally saw it though, I was stunned by just how bad a film it was, particularly in its selfish manipulations of its leading lady. There is so much wrong with this film, so lets have a quick look at it.
Firstly a brief synopsis: “Correspondence” is about a love affair between a (married) professor and one of his graduate students, who also works as a stunt woman in her spare time. Due to each others work, the two spend most of their time apart communicating via correspondence in letters, text messages and even on dvds. However whilst still receiving messages of love from the professor, the young girl suddenly hears in one of her lectures that he had been found dead a few days prior. How is this possible if she is still getting messages from him? And if they are not from the dead man, than who is contacting her and why?
This is just a film that should not have been made. It fails on so many levels but its biggest failing is in its casting. The pairing of Jeremy Irons and Olga Kurylenko just does not work due to the massive age difference between them. It gives the relationship an icky feeling right from the get go which makes it hard to become emotionally invested in the pair. Also, Kurylenko and Irons have no chemistry together at all. Granted they only share one scene together at the start of the film, and it is a romantic and sexy scene that has none of the pre-request heat needed for a scene like this to work. It all comes across as false.......not to mention, creepy. Jeremy Irons is particularly mis-cast in his role because Ed (his character's name) is this over the top happy guy, with a permanent goofy smile on his face, saying these flowery messages of love. Personally, Irons is the last person I would think of to pull this off convincingly and as such he looks quite awkward throughout; actually they both do to be blunt. Even more embarrassing is the nicknames that the two call each other regularly. Couldn't they come up with something better than “Wizard” and “Kamikaze”?
Another weird aspect of the film is the way the couple communicate, although this may make more sense when you realise that this is an idea that Tornatore has had for around twenty years. They communicate through a lot of out-dated techniques with the most particularly glaring being the fact that Ed films himself and sends dvds to Amy. There is no mention of Skype or social media platforms and while the couple do text, it still has an early nineties feel about it all. To be fair, I am being a little harsh of this fact, because later on in the film it makes sense as to why they communicate the way they do, but in the moment whilst watching the film it is off putting.
Because of these methods of communication though, the film loses one of Tornatore's greatest strengths which is his visual prowess. Granted parts of the film do look grand and splendid, but a large majority of the film is of Amy looking at images on a computer screen which is not only ugly to look at, it is also incredibly boring too. Most of these scenes are basic front on shots of a computer too which is disappointing that a director as good as this could not come up with a more ingenious way to present these scenes.
The script itself is also another of the film's many weak links. It is over written, particularly in regards to Jeremy Irons character, as he sprouts crap about love and quantum physics all in the one sentence, again and again. Like the love affair itself, it feels very forced and unnatural and sounds like nothing that would come out of the mouth of a real person. The biggest problem I have with the script though is just how damn selfish and manipulative Ed is to Amy. It is meant to come across as this big romantic gesture but in actuality, his actions only serve himself and hinder Amy's chance at happiness. The whole thing made me so angry whilst watching “Correspondence”.
At the end of the day, I chose “Correspondence” as my biggest disappointment for 2016 because it is a film with so many faults that the whole thing should never have gotten off the ground, and from a filmmaker as good as Giuseppe Tornatore it is even harder to take. The nail in the coffin though is I was so uninvolved and frustrated with “Correspondence” that I can not remember a single note of Ennio Morricone's score for it. Sadly, it is also my least favourite film from this great director so far.