First 1.5 hours: 3.5 stars; last .5 hours: 1.5 stars; average: 2.5 stars
Vomit scenes: 0
Good for women: Typical; simultaneously a repository both of all that is good and bad in the world
Because Netflix foiled my plans to see Reds today, I am determined to read this as an anti-capitalist movie, though not unproblematically so. I know Dreiser is a naturalist, and there's a good bit in Eastman's downfall that can be blamed on nothing more than bad luck (the only kind of luck most people seem to have in naturalist novels). However, I think that his love for Liz Taylor is pretty much inseparable from her class privilege. From the untouchable women on the Eastman billboards, to the flashing "Vickers" sign visible from George's rooming house window, to his assertion that he loved her "before he saw her," I don't think his attraction to Liz is totally due to her winning personality. The movie at least (having not read the novel) seems to be suggesting not that capitalism/money is bad--in fact, the most utopian scenes in the movie come when George is frolicking about on the Vickers estate--but that it is absolutely unattainable by and forbidden to the working classes in a way that drives them mad with desire and then kills them. Even though George tries to engage the Algerian myth of the American Dream, his blood, quite literally, prevents him from realizing it. I think all these interesting things happened pre-trial/prison/"Dead man walking" scenes, though. In a movie that seems wholly committed to maintaining the ambiguity of George's "crime," I felt that the trial, etc., was more of a long coda than a well integrated part of the movie. I wonder if Dreiser used those scenes differently?