– The magnificent landscape shots of the vast desert, as Werner Herzog could not help it but include some documentary like footage in his feature film. The only thing missing there was his smooth narrating voice.
– Nicole Kidman was given the burden of the whole film upon her shoulders and she absolutely nailed it with her brilliant performance. She carefully builds her character from the dynamic but oppressed young lady in England to the pioneering queen of the desert, owning the screen whether she has a humble Bedouin or a high-ranking British official opposite her. After a streak of failures (Grace of Monaco, Nine, Australia to name a few) can this film be a new turning point into her career?
– As good as the choice of Kidman was for the title character, so poor was the choice of James Franco and Robert Pattinson in two crucial male roles. Franco, as the first and real love of Gertrude Bell, gives a flaccid performance (reminding a lot his appearance as an oscar host a few years back), while the casting of Robert Pattinson for the role of T.E. Lawrence (majestically portrayed by Peter O’Toole some 50 years ago) can only stir awkward giggles. He is not bad, he is just not T.E. Lawrence.
– The hilarious cynicism and sharp comments of the British Ambassador in Tehran, peaking at the dinner table where he completely fails to comfort her heartbroken daughter. That is some good writing right there, equally well delivered on-screen by the stage actor Mark Lewis Jones.
– Werner Herzog manages to understand and unfold the female nature of a dynamic woman against the male-dominating world of the early 1900s far better that Isabel Coixet did in her Nobody Wants the Night, proving that it is not a question of gender but what you do with your film that matters.
Friedrichstadt Palast – 65th Berlinale International Film Festival – Berlin – 07/02/2015