Daily News header

The Magic of Belle Isle Review: Morgan Freeman A Revelation

By     get stories by email

One of the great concurrent pleasures of watching movies by directors genuinely sustaining their craft through the decades - and not in it for the money and fame - is both anticipating and and experiencing the surprise of how their work transforms and ripens through time. And few come more to mind than actor/filmmaker Rob Reiner. Yes, Meathead has come a long way baby, from his self-deprecating days on All in the Family, to the no less self-deprecating but seamlessly eloquent, The Magic Of Belle Isle.

Likely on some level autobiographical, The Magic Of Belle Isle delves into the life of Monte Wildhorn (Morgan Freeman), a popular writer of Western fiction who has more recently stumbled into writer's block. Wildhorn is also permanently confined to a wheelchair following an accident, and a widower unreconciled to his grief who finds quick fix comfort in alcoholism.

magic
Photo: www.rottentomatoes.com

Encouraged by a doting nephew (Kenan Thompson) to retreat to the rustic lakeside getaway of the title to heal his soul and hopefully spark his imagination again, Wildhorn reluctantly agrees but holds firmly to his bitterness and chronic depression. Until, that is, an encounter with a neighboring family of three young daughters and their struggling divorced mom, Charlotte (Virginia Madsen).

At first simply disgruntled by the surrounding community, including prying local fans of his writing disturbing his hermetic existence, Wildhorn forms an unusual poetic bond with Charlotte's preteen daughter, Finnegan (Emma Fuhrmann). Finnegan is enamored of Wildhorn's creative gift in a way that only a child's very differently perceived notion of the world could be, and that mystified admiration alternately annoys and intrigues him.

Which is essentially Finnegan's offer to pay him the few dollars and change she has saved up, if he will reveal to the possibly aspiring writer herself the secret of where stories come from. And his mystical reply laced with wonderment, as astonishing for the audience as for this irrepressibly curious child, is that you must look around you and tell me what you don't see.

Which is not to say that this solemn tale is not without moments of tenderly wrought humor. As when the relentlessly resistant Wildhorn, his spirit slowly and gently lifted from consuming darkness, declares that thoughts of suicide are 'temporarily postponed' for a dinner invitation from the quirky family. And, owing much of the film's always truthful, naked emotion, to the depth and richness of Freeman's performance, and of Madsen's as well.

Along with Rob Reiner's own remarkable gift as a writer, that he has conveyed through the words of this never quite broken man. As for instance Wildhorn's reply as to why he stubbornly continues to use an old school typewriter - and which could just as easily be said about this movie, even if it was scripted on a cumputer: 'I like the way the words bite into the page, and the sense that there's a human being there.'

Magnolia Pictures
Rated PG
4 stars

Trailer of The Magic of Belle Isle:

Prairie Miller is a NY multimedia journalist online, in print and on radio, and on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network's Arts Express. Read more reviews by Prairie Miller. Contact Prairie through NewsBlaze. Read more stories by Prairie Miller.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Doctors didn't buy the babysitter's story that it was all the result of an accident. Proof rested in the fact that the creep quickly slipped out of town before subsequently disappearing from the radar entirely.
Directed by Francis Lawrence, the movie stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, supported by Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch...
Horrible Bosses 2 does have its moments, a captivating car chase during which our heroes drag a chain link fence onto the freeway while on the run from the authorities.
The Thanksgiving celebration will be more lavish and fabulous when family sit together to watch the fresh DVD releases for this week!
For movies opening November 21, 2014, here are the must-see movies of the week, including The Hunger Games : Mockingjay Part 1
On TV, Jeffrey Wright appears on HBO's Boardwalk Empire, as Dr. Valentin Narcisse, Doctor of Divinity, student of culture and the man who runs Harlem.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site