Titus Movie Review

Titus Andronicus: One mean bastard.

Okay... I'm kinda lost. Who the hell is Titus Andronicus, you may ask? Well, Titus A. was the first play by Bill Shakespeare, about the usual themes of the mighty Bill: Revenge, hatred, a little bit of incest, honor, mental loopiness, and damn good human mincemeat pie. The hard part of trying to bring Shakespeare to life through either film or stage production is trying to cut through all of the pompous attitude of the director and making an understandable, comprehensible piece of narrative.

The pompous attitude of this version of Titus (not to be confused with the 1998 Germany TV movie "Titus und der Fluch der Diamanten") is what drags this film along like a squirrel caught in the wheel well of a semi driving cross country. When I watch a film, I want to watch a film, not a play. When I watch a play, vice versa. When Titus explodes across the screen in the first five minutes, I was intrigued by the imagery of a child making a mess of things with G.I. Joes and every condiment in the fridge -- and then the whole world exploding outside his window. Then as I settled in and began to take account of the situation during the next twenty minutes of the film, my inner child screamed for mercy. I was mentally beaten by the "imagery" and the ridiculousness of how dramatic a person can be just by standing up and walking a few steps and then sitting down again. Where is Kenneth Branagh when we need him?

For the next 2 1/2 hours of sheer torment, I was witness to a parade of the absurd. Jessica Lange in an orgy, Hopkins naked in a bathtub makin' drawings of his bum with the blood of his severed stump for a hand, cannibalism, a drag queen for an emperor, a frame-up job that pales next to the works of Mamet, and (yes) a human mincemeat pie. I think the spookiest thing I witnessed was a strange Blair Witch Project reference with a chick whose tongue was cut out, like Josh the camera guy, and her hands cut off and replaced by twigs. Somebody better make a call to Artisan and report this travesty.

The root of all of these errors falls on the heads of the production crew that steered this oil tanker of a film onto the rocky cliffs of Schumacher-land. The clash of costume design that resulted in a strange mix of both Mad Max and Flash Gordon outfits. The flamboyant, over-done MTV montages of dreaming and non-dreaming states of consciousness. The inclusion of Jessica Lange in a Roman orgy: Run away -- run away! The dead weight of subplots that needed a good dose of Walter Murch editing.

So why did I award this film with two stars instead of one? Two reasons: Human mincemeat pie and one great orgy.


Titus Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, 1999


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