Amateur movie review : Midnight Cowboy

Sunday, April 03, 2011 Posted by Pratheesh

I chose to watch this movie as it was suggested by Pinaki Sir in class. And as he rightly said, the
movie is depressing, and leaves one with a paranoid feeling. I still wonder why Midnight Cowboy was slapped with an X rating. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards though, becoming the first and only X rated movie to win Best Picture(they used this for promoting the movie). John Schlesinger won Best Director, and Waldo Salt won Best Writing - Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

Midnight Cowboy is all about one of the essential myths: The eager youth comes from the country to the city, and his simplicity and freshness are ground up in the urban jungle. Joe was a simple-no-ambition dishwashing Cowboy on the road to nowhere. In this small nothing town he might have been the top stud with women falling all over him. Realizing "the only one thing I ever been good for is loving" he concocts this naïve idea that he's going to quit his job.

Joe Buck happens to meet Ratso(Rico or Rizzo), a person entirely outside his experience. Like a rat, he makes his own way in the city, hated, asking no favors, living the life he knows. The characters are very different yet they complement each other really well. The only reason being- there is no other way to turn.

Joe is very much a daydreamer. The film is constructed with a series of flashbacks and dream sequences that are triggered by as much as an incident reminding Joe of something "similar" that happened to him. Joe's biggest misstep is buying into the images and words he sees and hears. His worldview seems to have been formed through John Wayne's movies.

Midnight Cowboy is a movie that destroys myths and demonstrates the difficulty of trying to attain one's dreams. Joe's great misconception of media leads to broken dreams, promises, and hopes when Joe tries to live his version of the American dream. The film wastes no time in pointing out Joe's lack of intelligence, style, class, tact, quick thinking, brainpower and so on make him unable to succeed in a place he doesn't understand in the least.

Joe's encounter in the dark movie theater with the kid with hornrims was seriously damaged by Schlesinger's flashbacks,which I think, were a serious weakness in the movie. I can never be sure what went on with the girl in Texas, or what Joe's grandmother was up to, but that doesn't matter. Experiences like those in Joe's background should have produced a masochistic, impotent figure, which don't fit into Joe Buch as we see him.

In the end, Midnight Cowboy is a devastating movie and doesn't care about sending the audience home happy. As a whole though, the film is hardly all gloom and doom because the friendship between Joe & Ratso and sequences that show their dreams shed some light on even the darkest of circumstances. Even the concluding sequence is painful. As Joe and Ratso make their way to enjoy in Florida, Ratso passes away in the bus. The people know something serious has occured but they don't get much bothered and some old women are shown as doing makeup as they get ready to get down at Florida.

The movie reminded me of the innocent, innocuous village people's experiences once they step into a metro city and it really does give you a mental beating. All in all, a depressing movie filmed in a cutting edge style that shows even dreams with low expectations can have a high price.