Wednesday, 27 July 2016


Real magic happens when you're not looking. Turn your attention to the trick, and that magic is lost - though we think we want to know, we never truly do. You likely weren't looking for, nor expecting, real movie magic when you sat down to your favourite film, the one most likely to evoke a sense of satisfaction and nostalgia in your memory. Steven Spielberg trades in this stuff regularly, and herein lies the issue: he wants to evoke those same senses in his audience, but the production of nostalgia relies upon the reproduction of an experience in the mind, and it's impossible to reproduce an experience in the same moment in which it's occurring. Thus, The BFG, which is so overtly an attempt to actively produce nostalgia, comes across more as a magic trick with all the sleight of hand made manifest in its every movement, rather than the real movie magic to which it aspires. The technique is strong, the execution stronger still, but the purpose is corrupt. The film is better when it lays off the wonder and whimsy, and hones in on character. A most British film in style and tone when dialogue takes over, here is where this most American director finds his feet. The BFG exploits the charm of Roald Dahl's prose and the skill of actor Mark Rylance to create a work that's as affable and heartwarming as it's intended to be. It's a broad comedy adventure in the mould of a dramatic family film, and boldly commits to its wholesome British eccentricity. Spielberg's regular collaborators turn in smart work, from Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg's lovely production design to John Williams' score, one of his best in recent years.