Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Film Review: Deliverance (1972)

Deliverance (Review)
United States/1972
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It is truly an unsettling experience."

Four men enter the Cahulawassee River to experience nature before the area is flooded by the construction of a dam. The trip, however, quickly takes a turn for the worst...

This is my first time watching Deliverance – a critically-acclaimed drama. I know, I know: Jonathan, what the hell took you so long? I don't have an answer for you, but I have a review. So, the plot is fairly simple. You have a group of men – Lewis (Burt Reynolds), Ed (John Voight), Bobby (Ned Beatty), and Drew (Ronny Cox) – who go canoeing on this beautiful, isolated river. They experience nature in its raw form. Things go south when Ed and Bobby run into some hillbillies. The horrifying experience leaves one man dead and four men scarred. The group is forced to continue, fighting for survival amidst the surrounding chaos. It really started to lose steam towards the third act, though. It felt like the film was repeating itself – it just didn't know when to end.

Yet, Deliverance is still a great movie. From the beginning, it instill this sense of adventure into the audience. This sensation really isn't common in modern drama/thrillers, but it's powerful here. It just keeps getting better, too. Whether it’s the group canoeing on this exciting river or facing off against some violent hillbillies, the film is filled with tension. This film has some of the most tense scenes I've ever seen. However, like I said, it does feel unbalanced and oddly paced. It follows the three-act formula to the tee – anyone can see the outline. This 'safe' approach feels forced and it negatively affects the pacing, especially towards the end. That's not to say I didn't like the ending, it just didn't leave an impression like the rest of the film.

The acting was good, though. Burt Reynolds delivered a strong performance. John Voight was also very good. The cast performed well together. The film was beautifully shot, too. The cinematography was great. The film doesn't utilize music much, but, when it does, it works very well with the tone and the setting of the film. The film was written by James Dickey and directed by John Boorman. I think Dickey's writing was complemented by Boorman's direction – the pair fit well together, even when they supposedly didn't work well together. The characters are well crafted, the atmosphere is tense and eerie, and there are some much-appreciate subtleties. There are some issues with this adaptation, though, including the pacing and unbalanced storytelling.

Overall, Deliverance is a great movie. It is truly an unsettling experience. I didn't think it was perfect, but it was certainly worth watching. If you love tense dramas, I think you'll love this one.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, including a rape scene.

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