If the legend of the Poland Curse still means anything, MCN’s David Poland may have stuck a shiv into Mark Romanek‘s Never Let Me Go (Fox Searchlight, 9.15) by calling it “a masterpiece…a film we’ll be discussing, frame by frame, in schools, 20 years from now.” He also praises it as “smart and demanding and emotional and rigorous and profoundly artful. It is more than ‘a good story well told’ [but] humanity on a screen. And it trusts us, as thinking, feeling adults, to do the work.”
I say this as someone who (a) is looking forward to seeing and possibly loving (really) Never Let Me Go — I really have no argument or bone to pick, and yet (b) someone who has noticed time and again that early unbridled Poland enthusiasm = “uh-oh, your movie is fucked.”
I say this as someone who has also seemed to curse films — commercially, that is — with love and enthusiasm. I was afraid all along that all my ecstatic Greenberg postings earlier this year might somehow seal its fate as a box-office dud. I once wrote that my love for Alexander Payne‘s Election was probably a guarantee that it would do poorly with general audiences. But the Poland Curse is different. I know it sounds cynical, but I consider it an absolute red flag whenever he calls any film a “masterpiece.”
Past Poland Curse victims: Rachel Getting Married (which Poland called “the best American film of the last 15 years“), Munich, Dreamgirls, Phantom of the Opera, Quills, Finding Forrester and the Reverse Poland Curse trio of The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Zodiac and There Will Be Blood (all of which Poland panned as “the trilogy of Critical Onanism,” and therefore provided an awards-season headwind).
Plot-thickener: Time‘s Richard Corliss has called Never Let Me Go “a superb, poignant film about love unto death.”