This has come to mind now, not because I wanted to walk out of Terence Malick's big budget experimental film The Tree of Life, but because apparently walk outs are becoming a phenomenon with that particular movie. And in a packed theatre at Cinema Nova last night, the walk outs were notable by their absense when the lights came up at the end.
It certainly won't be to everyone's taste. It's very much an impressionistic film that explores grand ideas through mood and beauty, rather than telling a coherent narrative. But, even those moments in the film that were the most challenging on a "need for narrative" level, were so beautifully shot and integrated into the visual poem that Malick composed, I was in awe of his bold vision.
There hasn't been a film I've wanted to walk out for a long time, though I have seen a couple of plays which drove that feeling right to the surface. Without naming names, one was a 90 minute play in a space that if I'd left, I would have interrupted the play; the other was a two-act show where I almost left at interval because I had seen the show before and was deeply unthrilled by this current production. I still wish there was some way I could have escaped the first, but I'm glad I stayed for the second because the second act was much stronger.
I put down books and switch off DVDs, possibly because I'm more easily distracted at home. But I cannot walk out of a film or a play, because I feel like any criticism of a half-watched piece makes the criticism entirely invalid. And I learn a lot by sticking through an entire production to see what pitfalls I can avoid in my own theatre making.