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Percy Versus Goliath Relevant & Powerful



Percy Versus Goliath Relevant & Powerful 15

Percy Versus Goliath

Starring  Christopher Walken, Christina Ricci, Zach Braff, Luke Kirby, Adam Beach, Martin Donovan, Roberta Maxwell and Peter Stebbings

Directed by  Clark Johnson

Rating: ** ½

 Walken walks  into  the role of  Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser as though he owned  him. While Walken  is  on screen playing this biographical man who took on the mighty corporates in their battle for patented seeds we forget he was  the  same  actor who played  the war veteran in The Deer Hunter ,the mercenary soldier in Dogs Of War and  a drug lord in King Of New York.

Age  sits well  on  Walken. He plays  the 70-year old father and grandfather  on  a   mission,  with a deep unostentatious  sincerity that  beseeches  greatness. Regrettably  Percy Versus Goliath falls short  of  greatness by a wide margin. It is a well-meaning expertly executed exercize  in social comment.  But  the  voice is often  indistinct , pale.  The approach to the hardhitting  subject matter lacks  punch and intensity.

Perhaps  this is intentional. Director Clark Johnson keeps the wakeup  call subdued which I feel is  not the  desired octave  in  a film that screams in  protest against  the  odds that farmers have to face the worldover.

 In fact this film  has a direct  bearing  on  the farmers’ agitation in India.Towards  the end, Percy flies down  to India for  a farmers’ summit where  he  brings  the house down by arguing  why  laws pertaining to seed patency must stop  being so  loaded against farmers.This part   of Percy’s  story  was actually  filmed in India  and for that reason it is  my favourite  portion  of  a  measured, restrained literal study  of   the adage ‘As you sow so you reap’

With Walken  effortlessly occupying centrestage  , Percy’s strained  relations with his  son(Luke Kirby), his deeply empathetic  bond with his  wife  (Roberta Maxwell)  , and the blurred lines between  professional and  personal allegiances  between Percy  and his lawyer(Zack Braff) and a environmental  activist(Christina Ricci) are very sharply drawn.

 It is as if  the writer and  the director knows this  world  inhabited  by sons of the soil but chooses not to  dig too deep into it.Everything is  right in the  storytelling  but too dry and freed  of  drama. I don’t know  if that’s a good thing. I  would have  liked to see  some more  blood coursing through the vein of this righteous  sincere drama.

The farmers’   protest against  unfair corporate  practices is sincere but lacking in passion. But Walken and  the rest of the cast are remarkably  attuned  to the needs  of  the screenplay.They  make the  endeavour worth our while.

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