145 - Sophie's Choice - 4 stars
I wondered what this film was going to be. All I knew of it was the clip that is always shown on that 100 best tearjerkers TV show. I was unsure how the film would revolve around one decision, whether it would come at the beginning or the end of the film.
These days I don't think it is much of a secret that Sophie is forced to choose between her children when at a concentration camp, one will live, the other will die. The choice is heartwrenching to watch, especially because of the reaction of the girl playing Streep's daughter. It so believable but she is so young that I can't imagine how they got that performance from her without telling her some horrible things!
The main focal point of the film is Meryl Streep's performance and it is possibly the finest performance I have ever seen by an actress. Her Polish accent is very convincing, her spoken German is flawless and she undergoes physical transformations that make Christian Bale's seem half-assed. She is absolutely magnificent playing a woman unsure of how to live in a world where she has lost everything.
While everyone always raved about Streep, it was taken for granted that she was great, I was really knocked out by Kevin Kline as her paranoid schizophrenic boyfriend. At times charming, at others terrifying.
What intrigued me at the end of the film was that, for me, the title Sophie's Choice did not actually refer to the decision about which child would survive, but actually was about her choice of who to be with i.e. the volatile Nathan or the sweet, innocent Slingo because it is this decision that ultimately decides on what kind of life she has. However this might just be my interpretation of the film.
Quick question for anyone who has seen the film. I got a copy of the film from one of those "free in the Mail on Sunday" DVDs and there are scenes in the film that flashback to Sophie's time in the concentration camp and it is all in German and Polish but there were no subtitles so it was impossible to understand parts of this section of the film even though you could pick up the jist of what was going on. Was this just my DVD or did the actual film not have subtitles? It was a minor annoyance as I wished I could have understood what was being said in these scenes.
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