Friday, November 22, 2013

Film Review: Network (1975)

Network (Review)
United States/1975
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!"

After learning of his impending termination from the air due to poor ratings, Howard Beale (Peter Finch), long-time anchor for the UBS Evening News, announces on live television that he will commit suicide on the following Tuesday's broadcast. Initially disappointed and angered, the Network eventually decides to milk his breakdown for better ratings...

Basically, Network follows the UBS television network as it battles poor ratings. Essentially, they begin to take advantage of Howard Beale and his crippling mental state. We see the politics surrounding every move the network makes, how they work and what they'll do to gain ratings, and gain insightful knowledge on the effects of television, as well as the politics that surround TV and in general. All in a tightly written and exemplarily performed satirical package. This consistent black comedy leads to a vicious ending -- both in it's chilling content and dark humor.

Network is a black comedy drama -- a satire strongly reliant on dialogue. Fortunately, the dialogue in this film is tight, intelligent, and engaging. Although a black comedy, Network isn't a laugh-out-loud feel-good romp. Instead, Network is written as a satire to address political and social issues -- fortunately, the black comedy negates the film from preaching. On top of that, many of the monologues are unforgettable, every line is delivered with great power, meaning, and thought. The plot moves at a consistent pace, and always has something to say -- subtly or in your face.

The acting is fantastic from the entire cast. Peter Finch delivers a phenomenal performance thanks to his many opportunities to monologue; Finch has so much character and emotion in his performance, it's unbelievably impressive. Set and costume design stood out to me as the film felt authentic, which helped the performances achieve maximum believability. The direction is superb from Sidney Lumet, really delivering a smooth and consistent experience. (I also really enjoyed his work on Before The Devil Knows You're Dead.) Paddy Chayefsky's writing also stands out as engaging and entertaining; in this case, it's also fair to call it "brilliant".

Overall, Network is superb black comedy/drama satire film. The dialogue is memorable and insightful, and the film entertains immensely. The direction and writing are superb, and the acting is fantastic from the entire cast -- effectively complimenting each other. I don't say this often about films, but it is safe to do so here, so I'll say it three times: Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!

Overall: 10/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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