Beatles Overload, anyone?
Imagine a film that revolves around songs of The Beatles. Across the Universe is a musical romantic drama co-written and directed by Tony Award winning director Julie Taymor. It is a love story set in the 1960’s set to original compositions of the Fab Four, with the Vietnam War, psychedelia, and anti-war activism as a background.
Oh yes, it’s centered on The Beatles’ discography alright, a fact that hits you smack in the face with the title and hits you harder the moment you hear the name of the main characters. The star-crossed lovers are Lucy (Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds) and Jude (Hey Jude). Lucy’s brother is Max _(Maxwell’s Silver Hammer), Sadie (Sexy Sadie) is their landlady, and Prudence (Dear Prudence) is a friend they make along the way. There’s a Doctor Robert and Mr. Kite (For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!) too.
Jim Sturgess plays the role of Jude, a young man from Liverpool who crosses the Atlantic to find his American G.I father. Evan Rachel Wood stars as Lucy, the all-American girl he falls in love with. Oe Anderson, T.V. Carpio, and Dana Fuchs play Max, Prudence, and Sadie respectively. Aside from engaging performances from the main cast, cameo appearances by Bono, Joe Cocker, Salma Hayek and Eddie Izzard are pleasant surprises to forward to.
Across the Universe combines live action and animation to oh so creatively produce hallucinogenic interpretations of situations that—-why am I not surprised—-are correlated with the songs of The Beatles. The film is entertaining, indeed. Ingeniously executed production design, period appropriate costumes, psychedelic visuals, and a terrific soundtrack that you will can listen to through about 90 per cent of the film (it is a musical, afterall) will keep your eyes and ears thoroughly satisfied.
What the film lacks though is a solid plot, which I think is understandable considering the story was built around 34 different songs. It comes off as way too cheesy and rather shallow for a film that utilizes warfare and activism as its themes. There’s no point in looking for the point after all the singing’s done, because the point for having the film produced was to get all that singing done.
Across the Universe is by no means a thought-provoking experience. But if you love music, optical illusions, if you want to be simply entertained, and if you’re a Beatles fan who doesn’t mind practically two hours of Beatles covers, then I suggest you watch this film.