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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Reds

Starring: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton
Director: Warren Beatty
Rated: PG
RunTime: 195 Minutes
Release Date: December 1981
Genres: Classic, Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Jack Nicholson, Maureen Stapleton, Gene Hackman, Edward Herrmann, Jerzy Kosinski, Paul Sorvino, Nicolas Coster, William Daniels, Max Wright

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Brian Koller review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Walter Frith read the review ---

Review by Brian Koller
2½ stars out of 4

Warren Beatty co-produced, directed, co-wrote and starred in "Reds", an ambitious 200-minute biography of American communist John Reed. The film was nominated for an incredible twelve Academy Awards, but the critical praise does not seem justified. It features a romance based mostly upon petty quarrels, a revolution consisting mostly of speechmaking, and political intrigue filled mostly with more petty bickering.

Adventurer/journalist Reed (Warren Beatty) meets attractive artist/activist Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) just prior to the advent of World War I. Soon, she leaves her conservative husband for Reed. She also takes up with bitter playwright Eugene O'Neill (Jack Nicholson). Disillusioned with Wilson's declaration of war against the Germans, the already radical Reed becomes a communist.

Reed travels to Russia, where he chronicles the revolution in his famous work, "Ten Days that Shook the World". After the war, he returns to America, becomes a labor agitator and forms a communist party. Then, it's back to Russia, which is now involved in a civil war against West-supported 'white' armies. Reed suffers from hardships such as imprisonment and declining health, and joins a committee led by fiery Grigory Zinoviev (author Jerzy Kosinski). Bryant makes an unlikely, selfless journey to Russia to join Reed. Maureen Stapleton plays Emma Goldman, another noted American communist. Gene Hackman also shows up in a small role.

Beatty deserves respect for making such a finacially risky and densely political epic. By no means are the Russian communists glorified. Lenin is depicted as a cold-blooded intellectual, while Stapleton's character is used to demonstrate disillusionment with the Bolsheviks' repressive dictatorship. While the politics are on target, the story focuses too much on Keaton, whose character dominates the film's first half. Perhaps this was a marketing necessity to bring women to the theatres, but any romantic chemistry between Keaton and Beatty is quickly trashed by their incessant arguments.

"Reds" won three Oscars, for Best Director, Best Cinematography (Vittorio Storaro), and Best Supporting Actress (Stapleton). The film was nominated in all the major categories, including Best Actor (Beatty), Best Actress (Keaton), Best Supporting Actor (Nicholson), Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay (Beatty with Trevor Griffiths).

Copyright 1996 Brian Koller

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