Across the Universe Review
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Before I get too far into my review of director Julie Taymor’s Beatles musical, Across the Universe, I have a little confession to make: I’ve never been much of a Beatles fan. Many of my friends have tried to convert me through the years—but while I’ve always appreciated the music of the Fab Four, I’ve never gone out and bought a single one of their albums. Now, however, after seeing Across the Universe, I have even more of an appreciation for the guys who wrote all the songs in this movie—as well as for Taymor and her writers, who somehow managed to fit so many of them into some kind of a story.

Across the Universe follows young Jude (Jim Sturgess), a dock worker who leaves his mother and his girlfriend behind in 1960s Liverpool and makes his way to America to find his father—a man he’s never met…and who doesn’t even know that Jude exists. The search takes him to Princeton, where he meets Max (Joe Anderson), a free-spirited student who invites him home for Thanksgiving.

As soon as Jude meets Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), Max’s younger sister, he falls in love with her—but it isn’t long before Jude’s on the road again. This time, he and Max head to New York, to start a new life. There, they rent a room in an apartment filled with artists and musicians—like Sadie (Dana Fuchs), their Janis Joplin-like landlady, and JoJo (Martin Luther McCoy), a Hendrix-like guitarist who comes to New York straight from the Detroit riots.

Along the way, Jude, Max, Lucy, and company meet all kinds of random Beatles-like people and have all kinds of crazy Beatles-like experiences, all to a Beatles-only soundtrack—giving your favorite old Beatles hits a whole new point of view.

Across the Universe is built on a really interesting concept. It was, without a doubt, an ambitious undertaking—especially when you consider the variety of music that the Beatles released. There’s a little bit of everything here—and, for the most part, it’s done incredibly well.

Of course, your enjoyment of Across the Universe all depends on how you look at it. If you come into it looking for a good story with a lot of Beatles music in the background, you’ll probably be disappointed. Because the story isn’t always solid. It doesn’t always make sense. The characters are often pretty random. And sometimes, it’s just plain strange. But if, on the other hand, you come into it looking for a lot of Beatles music, put together to tell some sort of a story, then you’ll be as impressed as I was.

The beginning of the film, especially, is spectacular. It’s fascinating and fun—and the music makes it even better. The middle of the film, however, tackles the Beatles’ psychedelic phase. That’s where the story falls away for a while, and it becomes less like a movie and more like a very long Pink Floyd video. Fortunately, though, the story does eventually pick back up. And though it doesn’t all come together in the neat and thoughtful ending that you might expect from your typical drama, if you can sit back and enjoy Across the Universe as a quirky work of musical art (a lot like Moulin Rouge!), you’ll walk out with a whole new appreciation for the Beatles and their music.

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