Critic Consensus: Papillon puts its own well-acted, solidly produced spin on a previously adapted tale, although it suffers in comparison to the 1973 version.
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Critic Reviews for Papillon
But whether taken as a study in human resilience, as an oblique love story, or as an indictment of the French penal system, this drama is claustrophobic and oppressive.
The deadening narrative structure (escape, capture, escape, capture etc) eventually overwhelms everything else on screen.
There is no discernible benefit or loss at the end of this long drama.
Audience Reviews for Papillon
Competent is the word of the day here. The acting's not great but it's competent. The style isn't blowing my mind but it's shot competently. Papillon is the sort of movie that will have its lead hit near-anorexia to express the level of torture his character has suffered, but can't have him grow a beard past sexy manicured stubble despite being isolated in a cell with nothing for two whole years. It commits hard to half-measures. A very unusual paradox that leads to a movie that's very, very okay.
Before you ask: No, I haven't seen the original. And no, this thing doesn't have any excuse to be nearly two and a half hours, but it mostly makes it worth your while. Director Michael Noer, who largely works in the world of documentaries, paints some beautiful canvases in contrast to the ugliness with which human life is subjected in this journey of a relentless man, unwilling to give in to a system dead set on cutting him down. Hunnam is solid, sells it, and obviously dedicated to the part while Malek is charming, oddly endearing, and the point of the dynamic that forces us to genuinely engage. There is an epic sense to the execution here and the entertainment factor is large if not somewhat distant, but I'd hoped we might be instilled more into the minds of these characters and how they dealt with the confinement and quiet more so than the film accomplishes. A for effort though (or B-). "Keeping you is no benefit. Losing you is no loss."
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