Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rob Roy

I'm gonna keep these short from now on because if I don't, if I write about everything I have a mind to, then these things will rival L. Ron Hubbard for his lack of brevity.

Rob Roy (Liam Neeson) is a Scottish clansman and it's 1718.  The clans are dissipating due to famine, disease and greedy noblemen, and many are immigrating to America.  Rob Roy doesn't want to do that, he wants to stay in Scotland and ravish his wife (Jessica Lange), and maybe a few sheep now and then, and hang out with his two boys, and herd cattle and listen to Enya down at the town bonfire this weekend.  But he and his clan need money in order to live that lifestyle, so he arranges to take out a loan with his lordship, the Marquis Montrose (John Hurt), and sends his buddy Eric Stoltz (Eric Stoltz) to collect it.  Unbeknownst to Montrose, his factor, Killearn (Brian Cox) and English nephew?, Archibald Cunningham (Tim Roth) conspire to rob Rob's friend Stoltz of the money, murdering him in the process. Thus begins the plight Rob Roy and his family and clan find themselves in for the bulk of the story.

I love this movie, and not just for the constant bagpipe, but also for the roughly-hewn characters and the actors who portray them. Tim Roth tears this shit up as spoiled English hedonist and all-around bastard, Archie Cunningham.  "Love is a dunghill, pretty Betty, and I am but a cock who crawls upon it to crow," pretty much sums up his role in this story. Dare I say his finest role, or at least the most convincing I've seen him play.

Jessica Lange turns in another randy performance as Rob's wife.  She just has this raunchy and weathered way about her that doesn't subtract from her beauty or skill as an actress, indeed it only enhances them.  When she wakes up one morning and walks down to the beach near her home to relieve herself, it just looked so natural. It could have been a brilliant little piece of cinema verite from director Caton-Jones, but something just tells me Lange did that on set on a whim and a camera-man was lucky enough to capture it, because that's how she rolls.  But Lange's performance during the whole r-bomb scene, and the restraint she exhibits in keeping that nastiness from her husband, is where she really fucking shines.

And Liam Neeson is just Oskar Schindler with a sword and a skirt.

Rating:  4/5

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