THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY may not be 2013’s best film. It is hands down the most lovingly crafted film of the year. And crafted is the best way to describe it. Watching MITTY is like walking through a home built by a master carpenter – a home he built not just for himself but for others to enjoy as well. Every skill he’s mastered, every bit of joy he takes in his work are confidently on display. It may not be your taste but it would be ridiculous to call it anything less than remarkable.
For me it worked. I love this kind of big, heartfelt entertainment. If Hollywood studios are going to keep backing 100 million dollar budgets, I hope they’ll always place some of those bets on filmmakers who want a big canvas to tell a very human story about grown ups. I’ve seen masterfully crafted films that left me cold and exhausted. MITTY resonated with all my senses and emotions – giving energy instead of taking it away.
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB is at the other end of the spectrum. It is a film that was not so much crafted as it was wrought. And wrought with great passion and care. I saw BUYERS CLUB several weeks ago and MITTY just last night. While they don’t automatically group together in style, genre, budget or story, they do have something in common. Both films were made by people who knew what they wanted to do, knew how to do it, and did not waste the opportunity to do something special.
I saw both movies in a theater. It’s still my favorite way to see a movie. Conventional wisdom says one should see THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY on the big screen and that it doesn’t matter on what kind of screen DALLAS BUYERS CLUB is viewed. I disagree. Seeing DALLAS BUYERS CLUB on the big screen made that gut wrenching story an immersive experience. If MITTY is a beautiful home that warms you and makes you feel good, BUYERS CLUB is stark street art that takes your breath away. Hooray for both of these filmmaking teams. May their tribe increase.