Casablanca (1942) – Review

Well I have finally seen the classic Casablanca and instead of talking about the plot points and story (most people know these already) I want to talk about my thoughts on the film.  So if you haven’t seen the film, you might want to stop reading now.

First of all the story.  The story was simple enough in its execution that with its small twists and turns you felt that you were invested in it enough to see it to its conclusion.  You felt that at some point Rick Blaine would show his true colors but they do not lead on enough for you to determine the outcome.  One of the strongest points of the story is that you always know that there is a deeper issue going on but instead of ramming it down your throat, they decide to instead just feed you bits and pieces of the back story, which prove to be enough to keep you hooked.

Secondly the characters.  I loved Humphrey Bogart in this film.  He was perfectly balanced in his delivery.  His  infusion of subtle humor into his role created a likeable central character that you could root for.  Bogart avoids wearing his emotions on his sleeve, but never misses a moment to speak up for what he believes in and that makes him one of cinemas most likable characters.  That can be said for most of the actors in this film as it was filled with great performances.  Peter Lorre in a more of a bit role as the seedy Ugarte, was excellent as always.  He knows how to keep his odd mannerisms under control so that he doesn’t become cartoony.  Claude Rains and Paul Henreid gave solid performances as well contributing to a very strong cast.  My problem with the acting comes from female lead Ilsa Lund played by the legendary Ingrid Bergman.  Once again, there is something slightly off about her acting.  While she might be a stunner in the looks department, she looks at times as if she is thinking of each letter in each word before it comes out of her mouth.  It looks as if it is not natural for her to be acting and while she is not bad at it, she certainly isn’t overly confident.  When she is surrounded by such brilliant actors, she sticks out that much more.  Overall she does a serviceable job, but doesn’t take the role to the next level which I would expect out of a leading lady.

My only concern with the legacy of this film is the lack of deep meaning and the basic elements of the story.  You don’t have anything to think about when the film is done, nor do the themes bounce around your head.  It is a simple love story that takes place during the historic background of war without stunning visuals, just a few generic quotes to build its history.  It doesn’t make a statement or lodge itself firmly in your psyche and I have a hard time equating that to greatness.

This film is equal parts love story and devotion to your passion/politics.  A struggle between what you know and believe in your heart and how it conflicts with unexplainable love.  A balance of humor from the sharp-witted Bogart as every serious moment is met with a bit of sarcasm, providing a perfect formula for a movie.  A template used for years to come, Casablanca is near perfect all around but also a little tame and basic.  It exceeded my expectations by miles and I waited far too long to have seen this film because of all the hype surrounding it and that was my biggest mistake because it was certainly enjoyable.

Score: 9.0/10

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