November 11th, 2022
MOVIE: GOING ALL THE WAY- THE DIRECTOR’S EDIT
STARRING: JEREMY DAVIES, BEN AFFLECK, RACHEL WEISZ, ROSE MCGOWAN
DIRECTED BY: MARK PELLINGTON
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
In literature there are many stories of lost innocence. The Great Gatsby, Lord of the Flies, and notoriously The Catcher in the Rye. It’s a universal theme. It’s something that every decade or century can relate with, as various wars come and go, the world changes, but our humanity often stays the same. In director Mark Pellington‘s 1997 film, Going All the Way, it is also about the loss of innocence, but by the time we catch up with our lead characters, that innocence has already been dispersed. It’s undeniably still relatable in 2022 and Pellington has made a brand new Director’s Edit which turns his underappreciated Sundance film into a must-see. Going All the Way is worthy of a visit from those who may need to give it a second chance or those who need to discover a true hidden gem.
Author Dan Wakefield adapts his novel and tells a story about two men that return from the Korean war to discover their independence in a new kind of middle America. The direction from Pellington is flowing from a similar vein to William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives or the post Korean War segments from Flags of Our Father. It’s not called PTSD or focused on the way a soldier adapts and more about the place they grew-up. The lead character is Sonny Burns (Jeremy Davies). He’s a quiet man and just a kid in terms of maturity. On his way back home to the small town in Indiana, he notices his high school classmate Gunner Casselman (Ben Affleck) on the same train. He was the popular guy, the quarterback, and everyone’s all-american. The two recognize one another and spark up a conversation. There’s a pursuit by Gunner for the two to be friends. Call it maturity or maybe it’s because these men have left a world where they grew up and return to a place they can barely recognize.
From the start there are additions to this version of Going All the Way that have been enhanced, with the use of narration, added scenes for more context, and Pellington’s directing style that creates a deeper narrative for a character’s mental state. The performance from Davies is often shy and bubbling under the surface. It’s the appearance from Affleck that attracts our focus while the story of Sonny Burns simmers in the background. The two combined are representations of lost innocence. Two men who come from different backgrounds. Sonny’s parents push a conservative view, while Gunner is looking for a way back to the freedom of expression, an independence he had during the war. Others call Gunner a hippie, as he genuinely wants to study art, have deeper conversations, and falls in love with a mysterious woman named Marty Pilcher (Rachel Weisz). As the two men have differing paths, there is a growth that we see, as no character in Going All the Way begins and ends the same.
And how much of Going All the Way is better because of the director’s edits? The answer is significantly. Pellington uses his history of directing music videos to add a great amount of style. Where the original cut attempted to make it more about young 20-somethings having conversations, the new cut has achieved in making it about more than that. It involves deeper thought. It becomes about two men finding themselves and cutting out the values that involve suppressing their true feelings.
Going All the Way achieves a typical argument, where movies that may not have been successful on first run can benefit from a new cut, and this is one of them. A young Ben Affleck was at the start of his career, before Chasing Amy or Good Will Hunting turned him into a true star, and showing signs of an actor that genuinely cared about making great movies. Above all, it sparks great contemplation, about the aspects of men that backs them into a corner to prove their masculinity, and proves that fake strength is worse than believed. This is a story that has characters with great authenticity. That makes the directors edit more than worthy for its new take on a great piece of cinema.
GOING ALL THE WAY IS PLAYING THIS WEEK IN SELECT THEATERS IN NEW YORK CITY ON FRIDAY DECEMBER 16TH, 2022.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady