Starring: Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Sofia Coppola, Joe Mantegna, George Hamilton, Franc D’Ambrosio, Donal Donnelly
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Summary: An aging Michael Corleone tries to go legitimate but is slowly drawn back into the world of organized crime
Other Nominations: Director, Supporting Actor (Garcia), Film Editing, Original Song (“Promise Me You’ll Remember”), Art Direction, Cinematography
This is not a bad film, but it’s reputation as a disappointment is well-earned considering how good the previous two movies are. Michael Corleone feels like a deflated balloon, which is sort of the point, and he’s about where one would expect him to be after the events of the second film; the problem a lot of people at the time probably is that this strips away most of what the general public liked about the first two, even if his character arc makes sense on a narrative level. I did like the theme of redemption and how it played out and that it serves as an adequate finale for this character who grew and changed so much over the course of the three films. Garcia feels like the lifeblood of the film since most of the other cast members and their characters feel old and worn out (again, somewhat intentional), and I can see why he was nominated.
There are a host of issues here though. The one that everyone points to is the casting of Sofia Coppola as Michael’s daughter; while she isn’t good at all, she by no means sinks the movie for me. I feel bad for both her and her father, as she was a last-minute choice (after Julia Roberts and Winona Ryder were both cast but dropped out) and they needed someone immediately. Second, Robert Duvall is gone because he wanted too much money (and justifiably so, as this movie was solely done to make money, so why shouldn’t he get his cut) and his replacement is essentially George Hamilton who has no established character and the movie doesn’t bother giving him one. Finally, a big issue was that Coppola wanted six months to work on the script and the studio gave him only six weeks. The result is a needlessly convoluted plot, dialogue that isn’t that great and we have a bizarre incest subplot where Michael is portrayed as the bad guy for not letting his daughter get romantically involved with a violent and dangerous man WHO IS ALSO HER FIRST COUSIN EW. Are they from Shelbyville or something?
If you can’t tell, the movie was plagued by problems that really ruined whatever chance it had to be something anywhere near the quality of the first two films. How it got nominated for Best Picture is a mystery to me, as there have been plenty of sequels to acclaimed films that didn’t get nominations.