Ben Oliver

Banner image for Sophie's Choice

Sophie’s Choice

Don’t you see, Sophie? We’re dying.
08 February 2015

Set in New York a few years after the war, a Polish woman retells her horrifying experience in Auschwitz.

Something about Sophie’s Choice is a little off. Perhaps it’s the way it frames Nazi war crimes in the context of a goofy love triangle, or perhaps it’s the way it clumsily deals with mental illness. Also, the constant reminder that people other than Jews were affected is dealt in a tasteless, thoughtless way.

This is an odd production. Pakula takes his time with the story and the slow pace gives us time to see relationships develop. However, that’s not what the film is about! Such a pondering, meandering script does not suit such a sensitive topic.

What’s more, at this point everyone knows what choice Sophie had to make. I’m not sure if at the time it was supposed to be a big ‘ta-da’ moment but the script sure plays it that way and again, it comes off as a bit tacky.

I’m picking holes in a decent film. Meryl Streep is always good, and Kevin Kline also puts in an interesting performance. It’s wonderfully shot; the Brooklyn scenes in particular are incredibly pretty.

However, I always find myself being harder on Hollywood films that tackle ‘issues’, especially when they are fictionalised, and Sophie’s Choice nonchalant manner rubbed me the wrong way.