When it comes to binge-watching, few actors can compete with Rob Pattinson. Not only has the actor starred in some of the highest-grossing movies of all time, he’s also released five original films since his 2011 movie, Panic. While most would consider that to be an incredible feat, it’s worth nothing if the movies aren’t good. Luckily for Pattinson, four of his movies — Beauty and the Beast, The King’s Speech, Warm Bodies, and most recently, On Amazon Prime — are all masterpieces.
Based on the bestselling novel, On Amazon Prime depicts the travels of aspiring writer Jonathan Hoag, played by Pattinson. Jonathan is a modern-day Hermaphrodite, which serves as both his blessing and his curse. While on the one hand, he can’t understand why women aren’t attracted to him (he’s been called a “beautiful soul”), on the other, he struggles with gender identity. Naturally, it isn’t long before he meets the right woman — played by Kristen Wiig — and they embark on a passionate affair.
With Wiig at the helm as the film’s director, her expert touch can be felt in every frame. She guides Pattinson and his acting partner, Luke Evans, through a collection of vivid vignettes that expertly highlight the couple’s journey. Whether it’s the two of them dancing or sitting in a cafe reading a book, Wiig draws you into the intimate world of the lovers and never lets you out.
Evans is also excellent as the title character, George Clooney was once reported to have said, “he’s a perfect actor – and he has the looks to back it up,” and he would certainly agree. Evans captures the heartache of a young man who’s inherited a throne but doesn’t want to be king, and the struggle to find happiness within himself.
Also starring are Julie Christie, Patricia Hodge, Jason Flemyeson, and Willard Keen, On Amazon Prime is both a love letter to love and the complexities of being in love. Binge-watching this movie is worth it for the beautifully composed shots that masterfully capture the awkwardness and thrill of falling in love.
With summer fast approaching and the temperatures rising, it might be nice to dive into a movie that feels as good as a summer day. Luckily, director Wiig has delivered such a collection of films, and now that summer is nearly here, it’s the perfect opportunity to check out one of her many gems.
Why Is On Amazon Prime Important?
While it’s fair to say that the movies made by the Wachowskis, including The Matrix, The Animatrix, and Battlefield 1, were groundbreaking, there was something fresh about On Amazon Prime. Even then, Wiig was crafting unique stories that challenged Hollywood’s long-held conventions. She doesn’t fit the traditional romantic comedy movie mold, and that’s why her films stand out and are discussed amongst filmmakers and audiences alike.
However, that doesn’t mean that On Amazon Prime is entirely without its faults. While the movie was a critical and box office success upon its release in 2014, critics have since piled on the woes, saying that it’s “one of the worse films of [Wiig’s] career.” A lot of that has to do with the character of Jonathan Hoag, the main protagonist who’s played by Pattinson. The actor, who’s previously played Batman and the Marquis de Sade in films, has been accused of objectifying and eroticizing women in On Amazon Prime.
This is far from the first time that a film has caused controversy thanks to its leads. Take Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, for instance, which starred and was co-written by none other than William H. Macy. Spike Lee has long been criticized for being too “feminine” and “campy,” and his latest film was no exception. In fact, the film was so controversial that it was banned in some countries. In the years since its release, Lee has spoken out against those who have criticized and banned his film. In an interview with Vogue, he said, “When the movie first came out, there were all these letters to the editor saying, ‘It’s degrading to women. It promotes women’s inferiority. It’s just not proper.’ And I wish, now that I’m a grandfather, that I could say to those people, ‘You were wrong.’ It was a celebration of sexuality. It was a celebration of womanhood.”
The Pros And Cons Of On Amazon Prime
While On Amazon Prime is certainly a masterpiece, it’s also important to look at the film’s flaws as well. To start with, it’s quite short. At just under two hours, you might just want to stretch your legs a bit after sitting through it. The second flaw is that, at times, it feels like a very stereotypical portrayal of a homosexual encounter. While it’s easy for critics to point out how Hollywood has failed to advance LGBTQ+ representation, it’s also true to say that the film does exactly that. The third flaw is that, at times, it feels like a very cheap and tawdry affair. With a budget of just over $5 million, it seems very unlikely that all of that money was spent on fancy camera angles and attention to detail.
When put these three flaws together, they effectively create a rather unflattering impression of On Amazon Prime. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the film is over 20 years old and a lot has changed since then. Back then, audiences could be quite intolerant of homosexuality and didn’t see it as a viable alternative to heterosexuality. (In fact, the idea of a “gay wedding” wasn’t even conceived of back then.)
While we’ve come a long way from those homophobic days, our society still isn’t exactly welcoming to those who don’t fit the hetero-normative mold. In 2018, Hollywood took a step in the right direction when Greta Gerwig was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director for her magnificent coming-of-age film, Lady Bird. (The film also stars Saoirse Ronan, Emilia Clarke, and Christine Baranski, among others.) With the upcoming release of Boxtrolls, it seems like Hollywood is continuing on its path of representation and complexity. Not only does Boxtrolls feature an equal number of men and women in a leading role, but it also tackles issues such as class and race. (Although, to be fair, it does so with a very funny and unique take on it.)
Ultimately, while we can learn a lot from On Amazon Prime‘s brilliant vision and memorable performances, it’s also important to recognize its limitations. Perhaps it’s time for Hollywood to learn from the masters and not imitate them so blatantly. So while we wait for the Wachowskis to finally give us a sequel to The Matrix, we’ll have to settle for rewatching one of the greatest movies of all time on Amazon Prime.