Reviews: Citizen Kane
The Greatest? No. But it's still pretty damn Great.
I get it if you don't particularly care for Citizen Kane. It's an odd film, whether you're judging it by the standards of modern or classic movies. The cinematography, the dialogue delivery, the scope of the film have held up well, though at times it feels distinct from other films of its time. I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's a film of it's time, but simultaneously not of its time. Plus, it is an EPIC film of EPIC proportions, and the grandiosity that comes with that is not for everybody. The cinematography and sets are gorgeous. In particular, shots of the Great Hall of Xanadu come to mind. I could not believe that it was one soundstage, it seemed so HUGE. Truly, this is a film that never would have worked had it been in color. Despite the epic sweep of the film, it's the performances of the actors that draw you in. Unlike in a lot of biopics, or in this case, psuedo-biopic films, none of the characters are one-note. Orson Welles is fantastic as Kane, going from an idealistic, audacious young man to an embittered, lonely jerk. Dorothy Comingore is riveting as his second wife, who starts out under his thumb and gradually becomes strong enough to defy him by leaving him. Joseph Cotten is funny and smart as Leland, Kane's best friend. The reviewer below castigates the film because Kane is unlikable. Well, that's sort of the point: he's meant to be an example of what happens when you pursue power and glory at the expense of all else, and what happens when you expect love but are unwilling to give it. Just because he's unlikable doesn't make him less compelling. Also, yes, the film tells you ahead of time what the plot is, but that's not a bad thing. In this film, it's not the destination that's important, it's how we, or in the film, Kane, get there. It's a character study: the plot's not the important part. Admittedly, the film isn't perfect. It's a little too grand at times for a story that ultimately goes nowhere, but it is still a fascinating character study that is stylishly shot. It might not be the greatest film ever made, but it's certainly one of the greats.
"Greatest Movie Ever"
There's a weird thing with movies these days that when a bunch of critics call it the greatest movie of all time, you're an idiot if you don't like it. Trust me on this; you're not an idiot if you don't like Citizen Kane. My biggest problem with this movie is that I don't give a shit. I really don't. Throughout the entire movie, I was just asking myself, "Why should I care about any of these people?" Kane's an asshole, and that's fine. No one ever said main characters had to be nice. But normally when a main character is an asshole, I should still be invested. At least a little. Why should I care about Kane? Because he died alone? So what? He deserved it. Because he wasn't born an asshole, but it was a result of his upbringing? So? There's only one scene of him being halfway decent, and that's when he was a kid. Kane's a ridiculously static character, which I consider a serious problem in a character study. Nothing changes Kane; he's always an asshole. The only thing that changes is his environment and how the public views him. I have other problems with this movie, too. Some of the actors in the smaller supporting roles just give performances that can only be described as goofy. The newsreel at the beginning of the film pretty much spells out the entire plot, leaving nothing to the imagination. The crux of the film is reliant on a plot hole. It's a well-made movie, but GREATEST movie ever? Not by a long shot. "12 Angry Men." "Casablanca." "Lawrence of Arabia." THOSE are movies that live up to the hype. Citizen Kane? Not so much. Anyway, that's just my opinion, so flame me if you want.