Schnabel’s “Miral” doesn’t impress Venice critics


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Lost in the buzz over “Black Swan” was reaction to “Miral,” director Julian Schnabel’s follow-up to his acclaimed “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” and another high-profile drama to world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.

Perhaps that’s because the response to “Miral” was a little less enthusiastic than the flutter surrounding Darren Aronofsky’s “Swan.” In fact, Anne Thompson expressed disappointment in Schnabel’s film, singling out the performance of actress Freida Pinto (best known for her part in Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire”).

“Pinto, while gorgeous, is not an expressive actress,” Thompson wrote in indieWIRE from Venice. And while the opening and closing of the film struck her emotionally, the middle section – which details an orphaned Palestinian girl who is drawn into the heated Arab-Israeli conflict – left Thompson flat.

“Miral — which will also play Telluride and Toronto — will likely remain within a narrow art-house niche,” she writes.

Variety’s Justin Chang echoed the sentiment, saying, “Schnabel’s signature blend of splintered storytelling and sobering humanism feels misapplied to this sweeping multigenerational saga of four Arab women living under Israeli occupation, the youngest of which, Miral, emerges a bland totem of hope rather than a compelling movie subject.”

Ouch.

We’ll know more about “Miral” and how it’s received next week, when it has played both of the aforementioned festivals. The Weinstein Company plans to release the film, and has targeted a Dec. 3 release date.

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