EIFF 2016: The Correspondence (2016)
The Correspondence is a film that I could easily imagine people struggling to get through. On the one hand it’s almost ludicrous, focusing as it does on a sad woman (Olga Kurylenko) who so desperately craves the constant messages that she receives from her love (Jeremy Irons) that she turns into one of those annoying people who sit in a theatre audience and spend most of their time looking at their phone. It also spins a web that connects this particular communication between the leads with our relationship with the stars in the night sky. Stop sniggering at the back, and whoever tried to cough out the word “pretentious” can hold their tongue.
Because, despite such risible elements, and material that could be considered pretentious, this comes together to be quite a sweet, if completely implausible, tale. It looks at love and loss, which we’ve seen dealt with in so many other movies, and it uses a plot device that gives everything an air of magic. While also reminding viewers that the magic stems from science. And even that is quite a good message to see in any movie nowadays.
You could just as easily replace Kurylenko and Irons with, for example, Keira Knightley and Tom Hiddleston and you’d have a much more mainstream romantic drama. The script would have to be tweaked, but I could see it working. It’s nice, however, that seasoned writer-director Giuseppe Tornatore didn’t take that route. He seems to have faith in the fact that people might accept this as material deserving looked at through slightly more mature eyes.
It’s a shame that the lead performances don’t do much to prop up the script. Kurylenko is okay, but she struggles to provide the full range of emotions required for her degree-pursuing stuntwoman immersing herself in the spirit of her man, and Irons has to overcome parts of the script that make him seem either foolish or creepy, by turns. Shauna Macdonald does well in her supporting role, and that covers all of the people that viewers will care about.
Traversing the huge distance between innerspace and the distant stars, The Correspondence manages to make some decent points about selfishness and personal growth. It’s just a shame that the entire film isn’t as successful as the few scenes that are most effective. Indeed, some scenes are almost amateurish and clumsy in their alignment of dialogue and imagery. But the stuff that works will end up staying with you longer than the stuff that doesn’t, hopefully.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: GIUSEPPE TORNATORE
STARS: OLGA KURYLENKO, JEREMY IRONS, SHAUNA MACDONALD
RUNTIME: 116 MINS APPROX