Universal Music: In director Julie Taymor's (Titus, Frida, Broadway's The Lion King) new film Across The Universe, we are offered a story of politics, war, and love all set to the music of the Beatles. Universe is not the story of the Beatles but their music compels the storyline along in a brisk, rollicking, and touching film.
Set in the 1960's leading up to and continuing through to the Vitenam War, Universe stars Jude (Jim Sturgess) and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), the star and continent crossed lovers who must endure the turmoil of the 60's in order to reach the peace of those strawberry fields.
The film starts out with the death of Lucy's paramour and Jude's arrival to America from England. When Jude befriends Max (Joe Anderson), Lucy's brother, Jude and Lucy meet and from there the rest is history set to music. Featuring 16 of the Beatles' classics, including, Strawberry Fields Forever, I Want To Hold Your Hand, and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, the songs tell the inner feelings and conflicts of the characters; they work and are perfectly in tune (pun intended) with what's going on around them and inside of them.
Taymor has captured the essence and funkiness of the 60's and the protests and the unrest of the country and the world and paints a colorful story and backdrop that is mesmerizing and compelling. This is by far the most ambitious movie of the year and even if you aren't a fan of the Beatles be prepared to be moved and tap your feet.
The film features mostly unknowns; the most famous of the starring cast is Wood who appeared in Thirteen, Running With Scissors and tv's Once And Again. Wood, in fact, is a standout and continues her rise to stardom. It's rumored she'll portray Anne Bronte in an upcoming film about the Bronte sisters and Alice in a movie about Lewis Carroll. Another thing that makes the film all the more wonderful is the cast does their own singing; this is more and more true these days with each musical film that is released. The days of dubbing appear to be over; thank goodness because the actual actor singing the actual song is so refreshing especially since a lot of real singers seem content to lip-synch.
This film wasn't one that I had planned on seeing but now I can't imagine not having seen it. Relive the days of the mushroom and bring your flower and enjoy a merry, musical movie.
Bags of popcorn (out of 5): 3.5