May 28, 2017

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

By Sean O’Connell 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.”


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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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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