This was a huge disappointment. Not because I had heard good things about the play on which it was based - to be honest, I had never heard of the play - but because Polanski's previous film had been one of his best, and the last film he'd made of a play was also one of his best.
This one was not. But I don't blame it on Polanski. The things that we're safe in assuming he had control over - the filming, editing, mise-en-scene, and acting to a degree - were fine. Expert, even. But unobtrusive - there were no compositions that distracted from the dialogue, or even enriched the dialogue in a way that made me sit up and take notice. The direction served the script.
That's where the problem was, and for that I think we can blame the playwright. Although, since I know nothing about the play, I suppose it's possible that some of the flaws entered the script in the filming process. What flaws do I mean?
Well, jeez, what have you got? I mean, everything about it blew (to use a bit of film-scholar jargon - go ahead, you can look it up). As a satire of the childrearing manners of wealthy white New Yorkers, it was less incisive than any one of about two dozen Law & Order episodes I've seen. Come to think of it, when it tried to show how these parents' attitudes toward their children's behavior mirrored their expectations for adult behavior, the script was still sub-Law & Order. And when these characters stopped in the middle of their arguments to pontificate about the nature of humanity and the conditions of our existence, well, let's just say I've been hit over the head with actual hammers that seemed subtler.
Mrs. Sgt. T suggests that Polanski should still be held responsible for this excrescence upon his ouevre - he chose to make the damn film, after all. I can't really argue with her.