Question: How can I tell you about how disappointed I was in Ryan Murphy’s (TV’s Popular, Nip/Tuck) Running with Scissors while also letting you that I enjoyed it (some) and still urge to go see the movie?
Answer: By being as authentically me as possible.
After all, that was the advice that author Augusten Burroughs (on whose best-selling memoir the movie is based) gave the audience at a Miami screening a couple of days ago.
Running with Scissors gets off to a good start, but soon becomes the Deirdre Burroughs’ (Annette Bening) Show – which isn’t so terrible except for the fact that that particular show isn’t completely fleshed out – and delves into humorless territory. I can’t compare the movie to the book because I never read the book, but I can tell you this isn’t a great movie. But it has good acting.
I don’t mean to name-drop (yes, I do), but Transamerica director Duncan Tucker told me last year that Felicity Huffman told him that, “if it isn’t on the page then it isn’t on the stage.” This is one of the main problems with this movie: the character development and the feeling for young Burroughs’ journey wasn’t there. What is, however, is some top-notch acting.
I knew Bening would deliver a knock-out performance – she has been a lock in my Best Actress list for this year for a while…and I hadn’t even seen her or any other of the performances on that list yet (I’m so going to see The Queen this weekend – hint, hint). Bening is a force to be reckoned with, so I’m quite confident that her strong work in this otherwise mediocre movie will earn her an Academy Award nomination.
Also making the most of what was on the page were co-stars Joseph Cross (whose story arc was, surprisingly, much too passive), Evan Rachel Wood (The Upside of Anger), Alec Baldwin (TV’s 30 Rock), Jill Clayburgh, and an intense Gwyneth Paltrow.
But Running with Scissors is the Annette Bening Show – and what a show it is. So go see the movie, if anything to enjoy a superb performance. Sometimes, that is the most riveting thing a movie can offer.
My Rating **1/2
Photo: TriStar Pictures.