American History X (1998) – part 3
By far the weakest point of the film is the end. I think the idea was to aggravate the overall impression and strength of the film with earthquake tragedy, but that murder in the school toilet was so stupid and unconvincing that, instead of tears, caused my jaw to fall in disbelief. Neither there was appropriate motivation for it, nor would anyone, even wildly adolescent, brought it up in such a place and in such way. I knew that in the end one of the brothers would have to die, but I expected them to get killed out of the passing car as they walked to the school, or through the restaurant window, and I expected the gang to kill Norton as retaliation for the black guys he had killed. That would be upsetting and make sense. But this toilet murder was simply stupid. And what's even worse, it's not even the original end of the movie. After the toilet murder, there was supposed to be a scene which would somewhat repair the damage made by this ridiculous killing. According to the script, the film ends with a scene in which Norton stands in front of a mirror shaving his head. This scene would round the story perfectly, made it more realistic, convincing and vigorously tragic, but Norton refused to do it.
Norton's performance is fantastic and so striking that it is perfectly understandable that it has blinded many eyes and distracted them from all the drawbacks of this film. If you are watching a movie focused exclusively on Norton, you will easily overlook all its shortcomings and experience it as a masterpiece, but I think that, if you watch the film again after reading this review, you will understand what I'm talking about and deprive it of some undeserved credit. Ten out of ten for Edward Norton, but about four or five for all the flaws, some of which I did not mention.
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