Across the Universe
Director: Julie Taymor
Writer: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
Based on: Songs by The Beatles
Cast: Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther, T.V. Carpio, Harry Lennix, Logan Marshall-Green, Eddie Izzard, Bono, Joe Cocker, Salma Hayek
Jude (Jim Sturgess) is a working guy from Liverpool who takes a chance to go to the USA to find his father. And he does find him, but more importantly he also finds Max (Joe Anderson) and his sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). While Max is drafted into the Vietnam war, Lucy and Jude try to build a life for themselves in New York. But things aren’t always easy.
I thought that I would like Across the Universe much better than I did. I mean, a musical based on Beatles songs, directed by Julie Taymor? Hells yes. But unfortunately the whole thing is hit and miss; missing especially a strong male lead.
Jim Sturgess just isn’t a particularly strong actor (or singer) and so the whole film already is off to a limping start. Especially since a pretty strong cast is packed around him. Evan Rachel Wood is great, as is Joe Anderson. And all the great appearances by singers (Bono!) and cameos by Eddie Izzard and Salma Hayek just worked to make it that much clearer that Sturgess can’t carry this film.
But even apart from him, the movie has its weaknesses and only hits its stride in the draft scene when Taymor starts to allow the film and herself to really play with the visuals and the surreality of some of the songs and the imagery associated with the Beatles. But once it hits that point, it really is a visual feast.
And again, apart from Jim Sturgess, the singing was really good. Evan Rachel Wood and Joe Anderson surprised me. But the stand-out voice for me in this one was Dana Fuchs. I could have listened to her all the time. The song choice was interesting. There were some very famous Beatles songs, but also some very unknown ones. But they did fit.
I really liked the story, too and I absolutely adored Lucy as a character. Put altogether I did enjoy the movie a whole lot.
Summarising: good, just not great.