Being Human (1994)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama, Period Film, Family Drama  |   Run Time - 122 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , Japan , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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One can almost imagine the light bulb going off in writer/director Bill Forsyth's head when he conceived the concept of Being Human. Clearly, the notion of Robin Williams portraying characters from five different ages of mankind would allow for all kinds of terrific characterizations, but unfortunately for both Forsyth and Williams, this on-the-surface, chancy effort moves too far away from the zany comedic antics of previous Williams films like Good Morning, Vietnam and doesn't achieve the dramatic heights of Dead Poets Society or Awakenings. Although he gets to play a caveman, a Roman slave, a Middle Ages nomad, a conquistador, and a modern-day New Yorker, Williams' Hector comes across as restrained. Granted, Forsyth has loaded up on the heavy duty themes of family, identity, and destiny, but each segment simply plods into the next, which wouldn't be so bad except that the character is not learning any lessons from his various incarnations. It's understood that part of the point is Hector's place in the world as just an ordinary person, but it still requires more than just repetitious events that just happen to occur in different time periods. Williams is talented enough to periodically break through some of the monotony, particularly in the Roman sequence where he gets to work with John Turturro, but overall the film feels a lot longer than its two-hour running time.