Crime and Punishment (2002) Blu-ray Review: Too Much Punishment

Crispin Glover plays Roskolnikov in Menahem Golan’s adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment. Roskolnikov has recently published a treatise concerning the “uber-mensch”, the man so powerful he does not have to fear crime and can get away with murder. 

Roskolnikov dares to try out his uber-mensch scheme by killing and robbing a local money lender and pawn shop owner. Shortly after the murder, our uber-mensch looks as guilty as it gets. He is cold and pale and mentions the murder too often to the wrong people. It is not long before the Chief of Police (William Hurt) is on his trail.

The entire movie comes off like a play, including people emoting to the back of the theater; everybody either yells or stage whispers. The walls of the sets shake and look paper thin. Actors who should know better give the sort of facial expressions one expects from a silent movie. To give important information, the writers do not have it come out through dialogue but verbal asides that just come off as odd and obnoxious. The staging is blocked like a play, and the camera usually sits where the audience would sit. All of this adds a surreality that undermines the seriousness of the themes.

Most frustrating, though, is the performance by Crispin Glover. The weight of the movie is on his shoulders and he is in nearly every scene. Unfortunately, Glover talks a lot to walls (literally looks up at walls and talks to them), uses both hands to point at nothing in particular, and sweats right through his makeup (or it is just a bad makeup job – hard to tell). The other actors sort of fall in lock step,  and William Hurt and Vanessa Redgrave give performances that feel dumbed down just to work with Glover’s constant, over-the-top mannerisms.

The only bonus material is English subtitles.

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Greg Hammond

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