Blood On The Crown – Not Worthy, Just Noise
Review for Blood On The Crown (2021) aka Just Noise
The Plot – The film chronicles how the citizens of Malta fought for independence from Britain in 1919.
The Review – I understand the challenges and effort that goes into creating any feature movie and so I tend to close an eye (or sometimes two) when trying to review a low budget movie like Just Noise which is also known as Blood On The Crown, the latest movie by by Davide Ferrario. This is a low budget movie that somehow managed to involve A-list senior Hollywood legends like Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Caligula) and Harvey Keitel (Taxi Driver, Reservoir Dogs) to feature in some scenes.
I’m going to jump straight the conclusion here – this film is not good. It is ambitious and at times very well shot but in many instances it feels very cheap and is possibly one of the most disengaging films I have ever seen. I really wanted this film to work, being Maltese myself and craving films that celebrate the historic achievements of our country. I’m going to cover the things I did not like in bullet form as I would like this movie to be a learning experience. I do hope that future films, maybe those covering more known historic events such as The Great Siege of Malta, would avoid the same mistakes. So, let’s go:
- For a movie to be engaging, it requires that we deeply care about the main characters. This movie has no clear definition of who the main characters are. We get to see so many characters of which we see only a glimpse a small fraction their situation and so we cannot rely relate to or understand their reality. Just before the climatic part, we somehow get hints that maybe the guy with the girlfriend is the main character but it’s too little, too late for us to really care, and so we feel detached.
- The movie is missing a setup element and a catalyst element. In most story structures in films we first are introduced to the world, the characters and their reality. Together with the characters we get to experience the catalyst moment where there is the call to action or in the case of this movie, there should be the call to protest. There is none of that here. The film opens right away with people plotting the protest from the get go. How can we understand and be engaged if we don’t properly experience the need for action?
- The movie has a polar mix of experienced talented actors and miscast less talented actors. In a drama like this one, this vast difference in talent is vastly amplified and it ruins the whole experience, and again kills any kind of engagement. I will not mention any names but anyone can understand which actors I’m referring to.
- Dynamic camera movement with gimbals or steady cams can be engaging but is here overused. For some reason, there is constant camera circling around the actors in most scenes. Can the camera stop moving and go to a close up of the main actors during a dramatic beat so we can see the expressions of the actors’ faces?
- The characters are pretty much 2 dimensional and don’t change throughout the story. At the end we feel empty and bleak, as if nothing has happened. This is because no transformation has happened. Yes some people have lost their lives during the course of the movie and through the final slideshows we realize the the fruit of the protest came 2 years later, but little does this fact fire any emotion in us as we don’t really get to know the characters.
Given all of this, I still applaud the filmmakers for being ambitious and trying to tackle a historic event with a low budget. A suggestion for next time would be to stick with a smaller number of characters and scope, a more focused storyline and put more scrutiny during the casting stage.