This movie is obsessed with eyes. At least twice, characters speak of Alexander’s magnetic intensity and when words fail them (as words seem especially prone to do in this film) they talk about Alexander’s eyes. “I have seen his eyes,” says the narrator of the film while the camera shows us the sad, puppy-dog, mascara-gooped eyes of Colin Ferrel, eyes which don’t quite match up with the hyper-hyperbole of the words we are hearing. The movie tries to tell. The movie tries to show. And neither tactic seemed to be working. The film unravels the tension it seeks to build; it undoes its own work: “I have seen his eyes” becomes “I guess you just had to be there.”
Part of the problem is the casting for the role of Alexander. Ferrel embodies the hangdog more convincingly than the fierce and the glorious. He always seems to be reaching for something magnanimous but sounds like he is reading lines rather than embodying them:
“We are most alone when we are with the myths.”
“To free the people of the world. Such would be beyond the glory of Achilles.”
“In the end, when it’s over, all that matters is what you’ve done.”
“Who knows these things?”
“Which am I? Weak, or divine?”
So much pontification. So much mascara. So many battle-worn “free men” who are missing the occassional eyeball. So many bad soundtrack moments. The soundtrack seems confused, almost as if it was borrowed from another film, often straining to invoke feelings of granduer in scenes that are quiet and subdued.
It is a long, labourious, glorious, insane quest that Alexander drags the free world into. And the movie ultimately falls victim to its own themes, becoming an over-long, over-reaching drama that wants too badly to cut the world up into extremes: “Which am I? Weak or divine?” The movie gives no evidence that it is more discerning than questions like this that its characters ask over and over.