Four is a British film, described as a "psychological thriller" which came out a year or so ago. Reading a snippet about the plot, which seemed interesting (a rich man hires someone to teach a lesson to his wife's lover) I was encouraged to watch it. Unfortuntely, it took only the first few lines of dialogue for me to start worrying about the script, and from an unpromising beginning, things went from bad to worse. There are four characters, none of them appealing or credible, and the acting, though on a slightly higher level than the plotting, characterisation and dialogue, was never going to trouble the Academy Award judges. It is a short film, less than 90 minutes in all, but it felt much, much longer.
I thought I ought to check out what other reviewers have made of this film. The Guardian said it "isnt' terrible, just confusing and boring", while Britflicks said it was "atrocious", The Times and The Sunday Times were both scathing about the dialogue. I'm sure there must be kinder reviews of the film out there somewhere, but these reactions were enough to convince me that I hadn't missed too many subtleties.
And yet. There is something that troubles me a lot about publishing a negative review. I think that, when one admires or simply enjoys a book, a play, a film or anything else, it's entirely reasonable to point out any aspects of that don't work quite as well as others. Relentlessly piling on admiring superlatives can be unsatisfactory and pointless. Balance is surely a Good Thing. But there's a potential for unkindess about castigating a work of art that one or more people have worked hard on that should surely give one pause for thought, especially in the case of a low budget film like this. Returning to yesteday's topic, if J.K. Rowling is criticised by reviewers- however unfairly - she has at least the consolation that she is one of the great best-sellers of all time, someone who will be remembered long after most of us are forgotten. I definitely have some sympathy for those who (like me) are far, far, below that level of success. Bad as I thought this film was, in the end, I only decided to publish this review because I'm interested to seek people's opinions on severely negative reviews, and whether they can ever be justified. (I'm talking about reviews where, as here, the reviewer has no personal axe to grind, not the cases much in the news recently where negative reviews have been published, sometimes anonymously, primarily to denigrate fellow writers - I can see no excuse for that practice at all.)
Anyway, this blog is not meant to have a negative slant. It's a means of sharing my pleasure in the crime genre. So as a penance, tomorrow I will write a rave review of an excellent book I've just finished and which I loved from page one to the end!