On my last Epic Film Quest review, I said I really, desperately needed a home-run film to come up soon. Well fuck me sideways, Sydney Pollack’s 1985 Romance Drama Out of Africa was not what I was looking for. It took a lot out of me, kids. A lot. But it did have some cool lion scenes (says my inner 7-year-old).
The film stars Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, and takes place in 20th century colonial Kenya. Streep is a Danish baroness and plantation owner who starts up a steamy (not really) love affair with a free-spirited (I guess) game hunter (Redford). There are about 1,000 virgin jokes before Streep’s character, Karen, convinces her friend to marry her. Karen tells us via narration that she once had a farm in Africa no less than 12 times in 10 minutes. They move to Africa. She wants a dairy farm, so he buys a coffee plantation instead.
This film is 2 hours and 45 minutes of brutal, mind-numbing non-action. The characters were nowhere near fleshed out enough to justify that running time! Alas, it’s hard to hate on Streep because she’s the most likable human being ever and one of the best actresses in the history of time too. So, she’s kind of a big deal regardless. And Redford? He’s pretty much Christian Grey, but for the mature ladies. What a pantydropper, that one. Even in the film, he courts Karen by nonchalantly declaring: “Lets lie down and get on with it.” I guess we could all learn a thing or two from Mr. Redford’s Denys Finch Hatton.
About two hours in, I wondered why this movie was even happening to me. I’m still young enough, I suppose, to exclaim that this is a movie that my mom would watch and like. Therefore, I am naturally horrified, and do not recommend it to anyone under the age of 30, especially if you are a straight male.
But how about a positive spin? I must say – some of director Sydney Pollack’s shots of Africa were actually quite beautiful. It made me think of how I’d really like to go to Africa one day…except I don’t really care about the culture or people so much. I’d mostly want to go take a Safari tour, and see the land and its animals. Maybe watch a lion eat something (says my inner 7-year-old). I mostly have an irrational fear that I’d find myself surrounded by scary, cannibalistic natives in which I’d have to escape and flee for my life. But then again, that could happen way closer to home, in places like, oh say, Miami. Eek.
In short: I love Meryl, disliked Out of Africa, and strongly fear/hate cannibals.