Saturday, May 30

Of Human Bondage

As a song lyric goes, 'love hurts'. Love, in both its good and bad forms take place in Of Human Bondage. Philip is a medical student who becomes enamored with Mildred, a waitress. She uses his attraction in her advantage by choosing to appear and leave his life whenever it suits her fancy. The whole movie does sound predictable, but it captured my attention.

It mostly revolved around Philip and his struggles even before encountering Mildred. He had a clubbed foot, which made it difficult for him to enter medical school - not to mention the finances that go with it. It was really evident that he had taken a liking to Mildred, going out of his way to woo her. When she first broke his heart, he trudged forward with his life - medical school, dating new people - until Mildred would show up on his doorstep and plead for him to take her, to take care of her, only to have her leave him and berate him at some point. It wasn't hard to cheer for him when his life was finally falling together, and that he still had a positive look on love and his future. 

I really don't have a liking for people like Mildred. How can people just string others around, to use their affection for their gain while knowing that they would never reciprocate the feelings? If there were more details to influence Mildred's thinking, or an inkling as to why she behaves that way, there's a slight chance that I might even feel pity for her. However, I'm just infuriated. I don't understand how people who look for love can play with people; what's the fun in that if you may end falling as a victim to similar actions? Maybe I'm just projecting my pessimist side on relationships, but I honestly believe that everyone deserves love, and that these kinds of emotions should not be played with. 

Bette Davis was clearly the star of the film; she was manipulative, crazy, and coy. She can easily demand attention onscreen with her antics and she really played her character well. However, I think she didn't do so well in her biggest scene - I felt her acting the scene, not living the scene. It's a shame since she really blended to the movie's reality in most of her scenes, but she didn't live up to par with her biggest act. She lacked conviction - her facial expressions and movements might be playing the part, but the look in her eyes say differently, like she wasn't certain of her movements. That scene would have been more memorable if she was wholly in it. 

Leslie Davis also gave a good, consistent performance throughout. I was expecting his character to be a pessimist at some point, but he just kept moving on with his life. The presence of Mildred affects his character deeply, even when he no longer had any romantic feelings for her, he still found himself obligated to look after her. He never really felt free of her, but only had bouts of time to himself until she disturbs his peace once more. 

The plot was never hard to follow, and despite the numerous supporting characters, they aid with the progression, making their roles crucial to the story. It was a well-made movie; the length was just right (as dramas nowadays tend to extend themselves to ridiculous run times) and the chronological story telling worked to its advantage. The passage of time was clear from the start. 



Final Word: It was well-put and it boasted good performances.

Cast: Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Frances Dee
Director: John Cromwell
Year: 1932

No comments:

Post a Comment