Review: Taking Woodstock (2009)

Elliot Tiber has just moved to White Lake, choosing family over his ambitions. With his new acquaintance Michael Lang, he is about to bring in the giant Woodstock Festival, in place of his initially planned music event. The venture for money soon becomes a junction of hatred, as the townspeople express disapproval of the disruption by the hippie influx.

A fairly interesting starting point meets a befitting cast in Taking Woodstock. Serious with a touch of dry comedy, Demetri Martin was perfect for the role of Tiber. Yet despite a good lead, Ang Lee’s new film somehow fell short of expectations.

From the beginning, excitement quickly flatlines with little humour. Inadequate cause for empathy for any of the characters made dull a festival that meant so much to a generation.

Lacking a certain focus, the story seemed like a simple narration of ordinary events too forthright to compel. Out of the experiences from the novel by the real Elliot Tiber, Ang Lee chose the less interesting bit of the book to adapt.

I would have loved to see Elliot meet Marlon Brando and Truman Capote, the Stonewall riots, and its eventual liberation. Yet the film just wasn’t as brilliant as it should’ve been.

Neither as trippy nor warming as its promotional poster suggests, this almost too light-hearted dramedy definitely lacks vibrancy, despite its colours.

3/5

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