When you're invited to spend five hours and thirty-three minutes watching a notorious Marxist revolutionary do his thing, you're hoping for something, well, modestly extraordinary. So much for that. Olivier Assayas's "Carlos" gives us Carlos the Jackal as a decades-spanning, international epic, and while it's certainly good. It could have been just as effective in perhaps less than half its running time. To be fair, the movie was made as a miniseries for French television, which is why it was being screened outside the main competition. Cannes purists apparently went bananas over the possibility that some dumb old TV movie would dare tarnish their precious Palme D'or.
"Carlos" is hardly dumb. But it peaks early and never returns to the sharper ideas and sharper filmmaking of the second of its three sections. So a decent film about how a nice Venezuelan boy -- Ilich Ramírez Sánchez -- becomes an anti-capitlist, anti-imperialist, pro-Palestine Marxist revolutionary (and what that even means) gradually descends into gangster-film clichés that would make more sense in an actual gangster film. The intellectual (Nora Von Waldstätten) who'll become his wife proclaims her German-feminism while wearing a tiny robe (it's pink) that barely disguises her lady bits. Soon, the camera is peeking at the little black bow on her panties while she's bent over her groom to be. By the late 1970s, this version of Ramírez Sánchez, played by a fully committed Edgar Ramirez, is a womanizing, chauvinist partier, in love with his legacy.
About Movie Nation
ContributorsTy Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.
Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.
Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.
Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer for Boston.com.
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