"I was looking forward to this movie in the light of so many favourable reviews and my appreciation of both 'Magnolia' and 'There Will Be Blood'. Within 15 minutes both my companion and I realised we'd made a terrible mistake. Notwithstanding that we endured the film's interminable 144 minutes in the hope that things might improve. I kept wondering what else I might be doing. Reading a book perhaps, listening to music or, joy of joys, watching a decent movie.
Yes, the film looks terrific. But the lack of engaging characters and a gripping plotline were major failings. Freddie Quell is a badly damaged war vet. Unfortunately he's also one of those people who, in the abstract, you feel sympathy towards. Hower confronted with the reality of his character all you want to do is escape from him. It doesn't help that Phoenix mumbles his way through most of the film. I'm increasingly irritated by films that purport to be in English but would benefit from the presence of subtitles.
No such problems afflict Hoffman's Lanacster Dodd, the charismatic charlatan at the heart of the film. Every piece of piffle is audible. The only honest person in the film is the son who cheerfully observes that his father "makes it up as he goes along".
Then there are the acolytes, credulous and gullible, willing to believe anything, put up with any indignity and hand over their money in the hope of self--improvement.
Top this all off with the most intrusive, oppressive score I've heard in a long time and you have, in my view, the most overrated film of the year and the one I've enjoyed least. It gets one star for the photography."