i have a strange aversion to the crushingly obvious

I've watched some of Hemingway & Gellhorn – I guess about half. It was okay. I may or may not watch the rest. I sometimes think I know more than enough about Hemingway's life anyway.

Nicole Kidman was excellent (of course) as Gellhorn (wife #3, if you're keeping track). At the beginning, she addresses the camera, as Gellhorn much older (attention, Ridley Scott: this is how you do old age makeup).

But this intro ends with her (referring to love), saying, "I'm a war correspondent." Kidman paused, and I said, "But of course, there are wars and there are wars." And then she said, "Of course, there are wars and there are wars."

This is usually a bad sign. This level of predictability can work in some situations, but mostly it doesn't.

Also, Clive Owen is not a good fit as Hemingway. My mental image of Hemingway was set by Stacy Keach, who played him in a TV miniseries a long time ago. Owen is a very good actor (he's great in Gosford Park), but I'm not buying him as Hemingway.

An example of when predictability does work? The movie LA Confidential, where Exley (Guy Pearce) and Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) are talking, and Exley tells the story of why he became a cop, and then he asks Vincennes the same question.

We've seen that Vincennes is corrupt, and a cop celebrity, and a guy who floats through life without working very hard because he's smarter than everybody else, and his only possible (honest) response to the question of why he became a cop is: "I don't remember." The entire movie has been leading up to him saying those three words.

But Spacey, working at his absolute best, shows us every slow step of Vincennes realizing this, and it's magnificent.

Hemingway & Gellhorn is not operating at anywhere near that level, so the predictability is the other kind, the kind you don't want.

Have you ever had that happen – that one clunky moment early on made you wary of an entire novel or movie?

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