Because of the logistics of modern film criticism - the relentless assembly-line of releases, the deadening deadlines, impossible editors, frustrating compromises, ad infinitum - reviewers don't have the luxury of kicking back and savoring the small details. Often, they miss them.
One of the most powerful moments in recent films comes towards the end of "Marley & Me," David Frankel's 2008 adaptation of the John Grogan book which essentially follows the life of a dog, a rascally yellow labrador retriever, from puppyhood to death. The well-honed screenplay was written by ace scenarist Scott Frank ("Get Shorty," "Minority Report" and "Out of Sight") and indie filmmaker Don Roos ("The Opposite of Sex"), but the scene in question is a brief, conspicuously wordless one.
In it, Ann Dowd, playing the family veterinarian, excuses herself so Owen Wilson can say goodbye to a seriously ill Marley, who is about to be put down. Florian Ballhaus's camera slowly follows Wilson's hand, in close-up, as he strokes Marley's coat for the last time. Frankel ("The Devil Wears Prada") worked to keep the moment short, silent, incredibly sensual, achingly sad and wholly memorable. Yes, indelible.
In his "Screen World" assessment of the movie year 2008, author Barry Monush honored Frankel's film "for being something more than just the obvious doggie flick that it looked like on the surface." This lovely sequence quietly advances that observation of "Marley and Me."
indelible moment will be a recurring feature on The Passionate Moviegoer, honoring those small, gem-like moments in movies that have the power to haunt one's memories and dreams. Recommendations?