Sunday, December 16, 2007

When Nietzsche Wept: Grade F


When Nietzsche Wept (2007)
Armand Assante, Ben Cross. Co-writer and Director Pinchas Perry.

Nietzsche would have wept to see how his life and work were treated in this historical drama about the relationship between himself and Viennese physician (and Freud’s mentor) Joseph Breuer. At least the main points of the story were historically accurate, and the sets and costumes looked authentic 1880's. But the acting is abominable. When the normally monosyllabic, tough-guy action figure Armand Assante is the best actor in the cast, you know you are in trouble. A stilted script that had everybody barking declarative statements did not help, but some real acting might have saved it. Instead, actors announced their lines in stentorian tones as if they were robots. The exceptionally lame dream sequences were boring, graceless, and did not move the story, which was supposed to be about Breuer’s self-realization of his attachment to several women: his wife, Lou Salome, and his patient Anna O. A sub-theme, well-known to historians of psychoanalysis, is that Freud stole all his main ideas from Nietzsche, but Freud is only a peripheral character here. Assante’s performance is a revelation, but slogging through this dreadful movie to see it is too high a price to pay.

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