How do you make a TV drama cinematic? You ask Ang Lee to shoot it.
He achieved this with “The Ice Storm”, which I watched right before this. It was a family drama, something you’d see on “Six Feet Under” for instance. But Lee comes and minces through the dramatic ‘engagement’ of it and fishes out the bare cinematic elements. The story is then told through these, and the mastery appears. Precise. Bressonian.
This is the reason why the trailer alone should win the golden globe here. The precision is uncanny. If you’ve seen it more than three times, watching the movie is like watching the making-of of it.
Jake wears his character on himself. Or rather, he wears himself on his character. Ledger is southernly appropriate and thus more believable. But I don’t blame Jake. I see this as a constant with him. I believe it’s due to his built which he can’t shake off. That’s why, his best performance is in “Jarhead” where the built is the star.
Go see it. If not for the cinematic elements, for the visceral depiction of loneliness. Sweaters. Clothes as emotional signifiers imbued with longing and nostalgia. Yes, sweaters, as emotional anchors.