Kind Hearts and Coronets

I usually really like black comedy but I just feel really meh about today's movie, directed in 1949 by Robert Hamer. I guess I don't usually watch older black comedies, so I'm probably used to a level of disturbing that isn't quite present here. Maybe I expected it? I don't really know why I didn't feel anything for this movie. It just fell sort of flat for me, and that's really all I can say to explain myself.

The movie is about Louis, a distant relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne. To inherit the title, he plans to kill off the other members of the family. I like the premise of this movie a lot, but to be honest, it didn't live up to my black comedy expectations. A word about my black comedy expectations - I really like horrible, horrible dark, black comedy. Todd Solondz black comedy.  Or at least up to say, the standards of the original Death at a Funeral. Not that this movie wasn't funny. There were parts that were! I just emerged very meh, but I also went into the movie feeling very meh, so take that as you will.
The murders were for sure funny and strange. I got a kick out of watching one of the family get blown up at tea, and another, sent down over a waterfall in a boat with his mistress. I even liked the droll, boring narration. It was funny and it felt right for the movie. What I didn't like was the love subplot that is in the movie. It was boring to me, and not nearly as interesting as the killings. That sounds really awful, but I must admit that I felt really tired during all the scenes involving that plot. It just didn't really work for me.

And overall, the whole movie just felt like it fell sort of flat. There are great parts, like the fact that Alec Guinness plays eight different characters, but I just didn't feel anything for the movie. I know that's the worst reason to dislike a movie, but I have that issue where I can see that something is masterful but I can't really get excited about it. That's how I feel about this. And unfortunately, that's really all I can say! I see why it is a great movie. I am glad for older black comedies since they surely paved the way for the ones I love so much now. However, I just couldn't get exited for the rest of the film.  I'm actually not sure if the love subplot bothered me, or if it was too full of "droll witticisms" for an hour and half, or if I was just in a bleh sort of mood. Either way, I don't feel too much for the movie. I really loved the aspects of it that make it a great film, but I guess it didn't work for me.

Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Kind Hearts and Coronets
Buy or rent it on Amazon

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