Maladies (2012)

Drama
James Franco, Catherine Keener, Fallon Goodson, David Strathairn
A talented and successful actor retires at a young age due to a perceived mental illness. Now living in a small town with his deranged sister and his best friend, we watch as their Maladies intertwine.
  • Tribeca Film Company:
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  • 29 Jun 2012 Released:
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almost the worst movie in the last ten years2/10
Just came from the premiere at Cubix / Alexanderplatz (Berlinale film festival).

I still have no idea what hit me. I really like James Franco, Catherine Keener, and the other actors are also quite good performers, as they usually act absolutely authentic to me. but the script was as if stolen from some over-enthusiast in a middle school writing class. Not even one piece of dialog struck me. No dramaturgy. Just NOTHING catchy. I like different layers of meanings, I tried so hard yet couldn't find it here. The picture is good. That's it. I fell asleep for some minutes, maybe I've missed something important, which would make me reconsider the movie, but it's unlikely.

It started quite interesting, overall, very promising set of characters and their situation, but it just gets nowhere, for the whole movie. It is like you can actually feel how uncomfortable the actors must have felt with the script that has been handed to them.

Save your time. This is my first movie review since years, and I don't claim to be a good critic. But this is just worth warning people.

Just for a brief orientation, just to name a few (mostly popular) directors & writers of movies I enjoyed: Jim Jarmusch, Gaspar Noe, Werner Herzog, Wes Anderson, the Coen brothers, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, David Fincher, David lynch, Quentin Tarantino
Don't Expect a movie like anything else and you may love this8/10
"Maladies" was slow but I never felt bored.

(I reveal some parts of the story but it's not like the movie is based on the surprise of these things happening such that knowing them would really "spoil" the movie, it's not a mystery or anything, but be forewarned.)

One thing that people say about this movie is it is about mental illness and although it is mentioned a few times and the portrayal of the characters is unusual I didn't see them necessarily as "mentally ill" in any way--they might have been, but also, maybe not. It just focused on people who themselves are focused on doing "work" which they found meaningful, living in a house together.

It did have a lot of expression of what the James character was thinking, but what's mentally ill about that? Don't most people walk around thinking about things?

Just because the movie is focused on the psychology of its characters doesn't mean there is anything psychologically "wrong" with them.

I myself was very interested in this being mostly about what people think about things. Near the beginning they show James musing about the "tall" water glass Catherine requests. I think that it is very human to show how people really have momentary thoughts about almost everything around them.

Some say the conclusion didn't work but I thought it was a fascinatingly surreal approach, where one character becomes emotionally unsettled and that manifests in something being "wrong" in the story which attracts the police, because we all know that the police are in the world to intervene and try to "solve" problems. I thought the fact that Carter refused to make this literal, maybe showing cuts where James really WAS doing something dangerous, like wavering a knife around, was brave and interesting.

In the end James is so damaged by his disturbance he dies...don't we all sometimes feel like something bothering us could lead to some kind of "end"? "When she left me I thought my life was over." Showing this as ACTUAL death just made it more poignant.

I thought that sound was used brilliantly to complement the action.

There is one scene that shows Delmar, played by David Straithairn, as he realizes that there is no way for him to join in and experience the joy and pleasure others are experiencing just from dancing to a song, that I thought was emotionally devastating.

I found it to be a unique and worthwhile "experimental" type movie, and I got a lot out of it. If you demand action or an explicit narrative from movies you may not like it as much, but if you aren't obsessed with such things this movie has a lot to offer in ways rarely seen in film.
Stranger than movies8/10
This is seriously strange and tough to vote for on any scale. But it did touch a nerve with me. James Franco is incredible in the main role. The characters and the story make "sense" (maybe not in the traditional sense, but they do). It all fits together even when the movie seems to go in a completely different direction.

There is a story, but there are also bits and pieces that somehow do not make any sense. But the actors make this work. Like all the relationships in the movie are not really complicated, but it is told in such a fashion that it doesn't really feel like something you've seen before. I thought this was a good thing. I liked most of the ideas on display here (though there are obvious flaws too of course). If you can let yourself, you may be able to enjoy it too (if you are into these kind of movies that is)
well done and original with a few flaws7/10
Despite two main pretensions in the form of unnecessary captions and a few over the top voice overs, the movie raises good points regarding mental illnesses and the borders between normality, perversion and infliction. captions are used too widely and do not work when one of the characters has to repeat them during the following scene. the queer issue is nicely addressed, and not too salient. the directing is very good- a few shots and a few scenes are remarkably done. most characters are round and well written as well as acted. Catherine Keener is great as always, and David Straithairn as Delmar is a quite surprising strong character. the second part of the movie, starting with a compelling scene in which the mane character (James Franco) meets a blind old woman at the beach, is considerably better than the first part. the ending is a bit unrealistic, but works. very nice and observant cinematography most of the time, that serves the themes of the film well.