review for Lord Jim on AllMovie

Lord Jim (1965)
by Craig Butler review

Lord Jim is far from totally satisfying, but it's an intriguing film which contains enough worthy elements to make one overlook its flaws. Those who are fans of the classic Joseph Conrad novel that is it source should be warned right away that they will be quite disappointed. Yes, much of the basic plot and many of the characters are present in Jim, but the overlay of moral complexity that is the heart and soul of the book is largely missing here. The title character lets us know that he is living a moral quagmire, but it's superficial: we never really feel that this is the case, never believe that there's a raging battle seething inside the man. Certainly, Peter O'Toole must be faulted for this, as his performance makes the character seem sullen and self-pitying, rather than a complex human being whose contradictory inner selves are constantly at war with each other. But director-writer Peter Brooks must also share the blame, for he forsakes the richness of the novel for a more action-oriented epic approach. While that approach simplifies things a bit much, it also results in some thrilling, exciting sequences, and those who come to Jim ready for adventure will find a good deal to entertain them. And while O'Toole may not provide the depth desired, he's an undeniably fascinating presence; when the camera lingers on those soulful eyes or catches a meaningful tilt of the head, his cinematic power is enough to capture and hold our attention. The supporting cast is strong, the locations are lush, and Freddie Young's cinematography is top notch.