The Remarkable Life of John Weld

The Remarkable Life of John Weld tells the true-life story of the title figure, an ambitious jack-of-all-trades who parlayed a short-lived stint as a stuntman into a journalism career that brought him face-to-face with such notorious figures as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and James Joyce. Filmmaker Gabe Torres delivers a documentary/fiction hybrid that’s dripping with good intentions yet never quite becomes the engrossing endeavor one might’ve anticipated and hoped for, although, to be fair, the picture does boast a handful of admittedly compelling and downright fascinating sequences – with the movie, in the end, at its best when focused on Weld’s initial (and accidental) foray into the world of Hollywood stunts. (There is, for example, a fascinating sequence wherein Weld, cast as an extra in a low-budget production, is asked to perform a dangerous dive off an intimidatingly high cliff.) It’s disappointing to note, then, that The Remarkable Life of John Weld slowly-but-surely loses its grip on the viewer as it moves into its less-than-engrossing midsection, as Torres’ decision to place a continuing emphasis on Weld’s romantic exploits and entanglements results in a fairly palpable who-cares sort of vibe (ie it’s just not terribly interesting stuff, ultimately). The increasingly arms-length atmosphere, which is compounded by a distressingly low-rent visual sensibility (ie almost shockingly shoddy special effects), ensures that The Remarkable Life of John Weld fizzles out long before reaching its comparatively decent final stretch, and it does seem, in the final analysis, that perhaps Weld’s life simply wasn’t compelling or eventful enough to sustain an entire film.

** out of ****

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