Film Reviews, Short Review

The New World (2005)

3/4

Terrence Malick does the Terrence Malick thing once again in The New World, this time through the story of Pocahontas. Colin Farrell and Christian Bale are both perfectly fine as the men who vie for her affections, but it is Q’orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas herself who really blows both of them out of the water. The switch in the film’s POV mid-way, from Farrell’s conflicted and uncommitted Captain John Smith to the ever-hopeful and breathy Pocahontas, is a brave one. It works well, although the chemistry between her and Bale is nowhere near as intense or as exciting as with Farrell, meaning the second half meanders occasionally. Nevertheless, Malick harnesses the magical quality of Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography to a far greater extent than Ińarritu managed in The Revenant, another film about early modern colonialists attempting to survive in new surroundings. The difference is the latter portrays Native Americans as either just mystical beings or savages; here they are fully-fledged actual characters, with a richness and history of their own, and the film is all the better for it, even if The New World does struggle with being a bit more beholden to its story than the atmosphere-heavy style of a Malick film would prefer.

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