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The Manchurian Candidate

The Manchurian CandidateJonathan Demme has a knack for creating a feeling of uneasiness. He made the amazing The Silence of the Lambs which featured actors looking directly at the camera. It breaks the fourth wall, but it also forces you to identify more with the characters. You’re looking at them and they’re looking at you. With The Manchurian Candidate he does the same thing with the same effect. One of the things that I loved about The Manchurian Candidate is that I was uneasy at the beginning of the film. What was going on? When was it going to start? It’s bold to throw the audience off-balance from the beginning, but it’s perfect to get you into the confused, paranoid mind of Denzel Washington’s character who’s trying to figure out what is going on. A lot has been written about the political aspects of the film, and while they are there, it’s a character-driven story with the focus on the struggle to figure out who we are. The remake is filled with a solid cast who are given the opportunity to shine by Demme. Liev Shreiber is the somewhat blank candidate of the title and he plays the character with a subtlety that strikes a delicate balance between a man who is empty and a man who wants to know who he is. Do we have a choice in our lives? In politics? Who makes the decisions? There are great actors who show up for just one scene, which undermines your expectations. Will they show up again? Are they important or just a red herring? You try to figure it out along with the characters. It’s a film that sticks with me.

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