Saturday, January 25, 2014

Empire of the Sun

A resourceful British boy (Christian Bale) living with his family in Shanghai at the start of World War II, becomes separated from his family during the Japanese invasion and struggles for survival, first on the streets then in a POW camp, while holding on to his love of planes and remaining somewhat aloof about his dire situation. From a book by J.G. Ballard who drew on similar personal childhood circumstances, Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun is visually among the best films he's ever made and features a focused, remarkably aware performance from a young Bale and nice support from John Malkovich who plays a sordid black marketeer. That being said, it is overlong by a third, narratively dense, and grows more frustratingly inaccessable as the film progresses, never allowing the viewer to understand what's going on in its youthful protagonist's head.