Reviews: Of Mice And Men

Steph Maker casts a confusedly fresh eye (it’ll make sense when you read the review) over an adaptation of a classic.

I swear to the almighty that I have read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.  I recall that it was on a reading list in high school.  I must have read it.  I must have.  I read everything I had to at school, I swear.  They gave me an A.  You don’t get A’s in high school without reading everything and kissing arse.  My knowledge of slightly obscure pop culture things helped too…but I must have read everything on the list.  Of Mice and Men was on the list.  I must have read it.  I read Obernewtyn for Pete’s sake.  How could I have missed a literary classic?!

Clearly though, if I have read Of Mice and Men it didn’t leave much of a mark.  Nothing in this movie rang any bells for me.  This suggests that apparently I didn’t read the book at all.  You would remember the stuff that went on in this story.  This may not be that much of a spoiler, but; nasty shit goes down. Steinbeck is known for his intensely raw tellings of life in the 30’s.  As such, I started off being disgusted by this jaunty adaptation of a book that is positively crushing.  It all seemed as wrong as someone saying, “Grapes of Wrath? Oh yes, I laughed and laughed and laughed.”

This state of anguish was only about 15 minutes into the film.  Turns out I was so, so wrong.
Of Mice and Men would be a strong competitor for “most depressing movie ever.”  Dogs are shot, women are assaulted and the mentally disabled are beaten up.  It’s set in the depression and you’ll descend into one by the end.  It hurts to watch. Malkovich is stunning, of course.  On more than one occasion during the film I wondered what it was like to be him.  I passed these thoughts onto my friend.  I told her I was to be allowed to make awful jokes provided they were pretentious.  I now note my sad likeness to Frasier in “Frasier.”

Stylistically, it looks like a midday movie.  All of the colours are earthy and wholesome, in stark contrast to the hideous things going on.  It goes a little slowly and is at times too sentimental. There are however, small mercies within this production.  Never before had I thought of Gary Sinise as an attractive man.  I do now.  I feel weird about it. Watch this if you want to cry like a bitch but be strangely aroused by Mr Sinise sans shirt.

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