Tim Robbins, a fairly well known actor, does not make an appearance in Cradle Will Rock, but his presence is well noticed. Having written and directed this true-life Great Depression film about a play that questions the United States government, Tim Robbins has brought a grand and luxurious story to the big screen with big results.
I don't mean to sound so flabbergasted over the movie, but Cradle Will Rock is not something that would catch my eye at the video store. Yes, it has an ensemble cast of names such as Hank Azaria, Ruben Blades, Joan Cusack, John Cusack, Cary Elwes, Angus MacFadyen, Bill Murry, Vanessa Redgrave, Susan Sarandon, John Turturro, and Emily Watson, but the story about a play in the Depression era doesn't sound that impressive. That is why it is so extraordinary that Robbins has been able to craft an entertaining, realistic, serious, and funny film, and have it be non-fictional at the same time.
The movie changes tones several times throughout the film, switching from serious political arguments to comical workings, yet the transitions are pretty seamless and the moods usually overlap.
The script is very well done as most of the actors are given fairly equal screen time and good lines. A lot of the characters don't have background stories (in the movie) but they do have character, which is important. The movie focuses on the here on now, instead of cluttering itself up with the backgrounds of all the characters.
The acting is well done, but that's not too surprising considering the names in the cast. The actors look like they are having a lot of fun doing the scenes, and at some points it feels as if Cradle Will Rock is being performed on stage live, as the actors shout and wave their hands with fun eccentrics.
Near the end, the film begins to wander for about ten minutes, but then splashes back into focus. The entire play scene at the end is done skillfully, as many similar scenes like this done out in other films appear cheesy. When the actors stand up in the crowd I didn't shake my head or anything; I was entertained.
Tim Robbins has brought 1936 back to life in an entertaining, fun, and politically realistic film. Cradle Will Rock won't appeal to everyone, but it definitely gets my recommendation.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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