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Rob Roy

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Rob Roy

Starring: Liam Neeson, Jessical Lange
Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Rated: R
RunTime: 139 Minutes
Release Date: April 1995
Genres: Action, Drama, Romance, Suspense

*Also starring: John Hurt, Eric Stoltz, Tim Roth, Andrew Keir, Brian Cox, Brian McCardie, Gilbert Martin, Vicki Masson

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

ROB ROY is a story set in the Scottish Highlands in the year 1713. It tells the story of a legendary figure known as Rob Roy. How much of the story is true and how much myth, I have no idea, but I am ready to accept it all as fact since it seemed plausible enough to me and its degree of truth was irrelevant.

Rob Roy (Liam Neeson) is a man who values his honor about all else. It is more important to him than his wife Mary (Jessica Lange), his children, and his native Scotland - all of whom he loves dearly. In order to make money buying and selling cattle, he borrows 1,000 pounds for 3 months at 20 percent interest from the evil Marquis of Montrose (John Hurt) and pledges on his honor and with all 300 acres of his land as collateral to pay it back in time.

The Marquis has a visitor from England, Cunningham (Tim Roth), who is a prissy and penniless young man that has gotten into trouble. He parents have sent him north so that he will cool off and straighten his life out under the care of the Marquis. Other than thievery and murder, Cunningham's main claim to fame is that he is a swordsman of unrivaled ability.

Many good minor characters including Rob Roy's right hand man McDonald (Eric Stolz). and the Marquis's "factor" Killearn (Brian Cox). A factor is a Scottish assistant I guess. The nobility kept saying things like, "I'll have my factor talk to your factor." Kept making me think of prime numbers.

You can probably guess what happens to the 1,000 pounds. Suffice it to say it is the catalyst for this entire episode of Rob Roy's life, and it is a rollicking good tale as they say.

On the whole I liked ROB ROY, but was disappointed since I expect more. As a soap opera a la an average Masterpiece Theater episode, it works nicely. The cinematography (Roger Deakins and Karl Walter Lindenlaub) is lovely without overpowering. We get a lot of vistas and a lot fog. Although charming, I think it could have been even more powerful given the inherent beauty of that part of Scotland.

The acting is good all round. Lange and Hurt, who are wonderful actors and who have a tendency to overact, were carefully controlled in their emotions in this adaptation. Neeson is always good, and he was here as well.

Easily, the most impressive job was the acting of Tim Roth. He owned every scene he was in. He had a boyish grin and yet he was the devil incarnate. His performance reminded me some of Ralph Fiennes as the concentration camp leader in SCHINDLER'S LIST. He had that same appearance of I look sweet on the surface but I may slit your throat at any minute and without provocation.

My main problem with the show was the directing (Michael Caton-Jones) and the editing (Peter Honess). I found that I did not empathize with the characters as they seemed sort of distant. Given all that happened in the show, I should have gotten angry at the villains and scared for the good people. Instead, I found myself with a feeling of interest yet detachment. It is hard to put my finger on why other than it seemed too much like a slow soap opera. The editing pace added to the problems. Much more of the footage should have been left on the cutting room floor.

Other than the Academy Award nomination quality performance by Tim Roth, there is one other outstanding aspect to the movie - the sword fight scene. There is more than one, but the long one is the one to which I am referring. It is, without doubt, the best sword fight I have ever seen. This time, the editing and the sound effects editing were outstanding. Listen to the sounds of the steel against a background of silence broken only by the fighters breathing. The choreography of this sequence was marvelous.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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