movie: The Perfect Storm (2000)

You may recall that I listened to the audio version of Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm a few months back, and loved it. I think it was my father who mentioned that the movie was quite good; and I’ve been meaning to see it. I was actually a little sleep-deprived when Husband found it the other night and put it on, a little late; I was worried that I would find myself nodding off (often a problem with movie-watching for me). But no such danger with this film.

perfectstormThe movie was made in 2000, based on the book of 1997. An all-start cast bodes well: George Clooney, John C. Reilly, and oh my goodness, Mark Wahlberg, for whom I have a real weakness. Also William Fichtner, whom I knew by face but not by name. I’ll go light on the plot summary (you can see my book review for that) and instead concentrate on the impact of the movie and its relationship to the book.

I had no trouble staying awake to watch this movie with clenched fists and jaw, because it is ceaselessly suspenseful, dramatic, action-packed. My adrenaline pumped as I watched men and women fight for their lives; and having read the book and thus knowing (in a general sense, movies not always being entirely faithful to the book) what happens did not relieve my nerves at all. In this way it was true to the book, which is also edge-of-the-seat thrilling. For that matter, the book takes forays into various supportive details: boat design, the physics of wave dynamics, meteorology, the history of Gloucester, Mass. as a fishing village, etc. I don’t recall that I ever felt bored or impatient with these digressions; they supported the story and were interesting in themselves. But (and perhaps this is obvious, as it’s a Hollywood film) the movie never went there. The movie cuts out some of the action and lots of the details, and this supports its different goal. Where the book is both awesome and scientific, the film is all high-energy drama. They’re both great, but a little different.

I found the emotional impact of the movie to be significant. I asked Husband about his feelings while we watched, and he didn’t seem to understand the question; we could speculate about the traditional gender role responses to questions about feelings, or we could assume that he would have been more emotionally affected if he’d also read the book, but I don’t need to parse that issue here. *I* felt that the scenes of homecoming, leave-taking, and mourning were greatly moving.

The greatest strengths of the movie were some of the greatest strengths of the book: emotional impact, thrilling action, consideration of the awe-inspiring power of natural forces. I’m not sure that this is always true of movies and books that are both effective, so I wanted to make that observation. A further strength of the movie was visual effect: giant waves and lives hanging in the balance make for some impressive images. Not to mention, the handsome cast allows for some sweet shots as well:

And although I haven’t pictured her here, Diane Lane makes a lovely Christina (Bobby/Mark Wahlberg’s girlfriend), and their relationship is every bit as sweet and endearing onscreen as on the page. I give full marks to all the cast. This was a very enjoyable and riveting movie to watch. I did miss some of what the book gave me that the movie didn’t, but I think the film did as much as a film can do with a book, and utilized the format’s strengths (like stunning images) to best advantage. Great stuff.

And in closing, I would like to point out that it is always a pleasure to watch Mark Wahlberg do anything.

Rating: 7 swordfish.

One Response

  1. […] Sorry for another long review! (Usually this means I really liked the book.) In a nutshell: moving, emotional, adrenalizing, scientific, faithful, thrilling! Check it out. Rating: 8 swordfish. EDIT: I also reviewed the movie, here. […]

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