Saturday, 16 July 2011

Walking out... I couldn't do it, could you?

Every so often, I think about walking out of a play, but I can't. I've never done it and I don't think I ever could. I've never walked out of a film, either. It's not in my nature. In the end, I'd rather suffer through the entire thing so I can criticise the entire play, rather than leave halfway and never know if it got any better or any worse.

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.

5 comments:

xofro said...

Oh, spoil-sport! - name names!!

Keith Gow said...

The show I wish I could have walked out of was "Dark Summer" and the show I considered leaving was actually "Next to Normal" but was very glad I stayed.

Fenny said...

Ma and I have walked out of a play before. It was called "The Park" and was supposed to be an updated version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream". It was truly hideous and I'm surprised we made it as far as the interval.

I very nearly walked out on "Horrible Bosses" the other week, just because of Jennifer Aniston's role. I stuck it out and the last few minutes of the film were almost worth staying for, but I really wouldn't recommend anyone to waste money on it. Because I have an unlimited subscription, I can cope with the odd stinker - although this one was by far the worst film I can remember seeing in a *very* long time - because I'm not really paying to see it.

Keith Gow said...

I think the fact I'm paying to see things is the reason I stay! If it was free, I might start walking out more often. Ha!

On a similar subject, there are TV shows I watched many, many years after I should have "walked out" on them! I'm better at giving up on TV shows now.

Fenny said...

Ah, TV's a whole different matter with me these days. Since I gave up my TV licence last summer (it costs about the same as my unlimited cinema card, so that won out in my budget reduction exercise), I watch very little. I can catch up with BBC programmes via iPlayer and will watch if they are worth the effort. Anything that requires downloading has to be worth the effort of finding it and sitting through it.

If I leave a play I've paid for, I'll make an effort to tell the theatre management why I'm going.