I’ve heard a lot about Deliverance. It’s one of those movies people seem to reference all the time. It started out with a couple men talking and the name “Lewis” bantered about a lot with super wide shots so that I had no idea who was who. I’m not a film director so I don’t know if that was intentional or simply a product of 1970s filmmaking but I didn’t like it. We identify with characters in a movie through close-ups and point-of-view shots, so it took awhile for me to get to know the characters. Then, finally, I understood what was going on, and by the time they got onto the water, I was ready for things to start happening. And, really, it took what felt like half the movie for things to get going.
It was predictable and several times I wanted to get up and stop watching, but I couldn’t. Even though I knew what was going to happen once the shiz went down, I couldn’t pull away. I wanted to see how bad it got for these four men: who turned against who, who broke down, who gave it all up to the cops.
I think the clincher for me, when I really thought “huh, maybe there’s more going on here than just an action movie” is when Robert says, right before the Point of No Return, that hot-headed Lewis is actually terrified of nature. All this time Lewis has been the catalyst for this entire trip and yet when Robert says that, it’s like oh shit, these guys are in for it if their de facto leader is hiding his fear behind bravado.
I did like the subtle dialogue, the bits and pieces of plot and happenings that are given no explanation, no voice-over, no talking about it after the fact. (I don’t want to give spoilers). I kept waiting to hear the characters’ backstories,, but we really get none of that. What we are given is quick slices of dialogue between the characters. For instance, I had no idea Drew had a wife and kids until the end.
The characters contrast each other in ways they teach you about in school. Lewis is the macho man, offset by kind Ed. Robert is the chubby, boyish one, Drew the soft-spoken, “best” one of them. Each man has his role to play in this adventure and each is sacrificed in his own way, but it’s only Ed who actually grows as a character.
The river (as representative of nature) is the antagonist in the story in that it’s the “character” that prevents the others from achieving their goal (getting down the river). It thwarts their progress, and puts up roadblocks every step of the way.
Best Paired With: A nice cold beer and a burger