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Mick LaSalle’s “Soul of Despair” Is a Structural and Thoughtful Gem

In response to Mick LaSalle’s 715‑word review of Nebraska on San Francisco Chronicle

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The always eloquent Mick LaSalle is back to stun the world with his latest piece of high-art “Nebraska review: Road trip to the soul of despair.”

The structure of the piece may remind some of Michelangelo, and the crafty writing is comparable to ancient Greek thinkers. It truly is a magnificent review, and LaSalle has managed to channel the wisdom of the greats and relay it to the webpage for all to enjoy.

LaSalle makes several references to Alexander Payne’s previous film About Schmidt in Soul of Despair, and the reader unfamiliar with LaSalle’s work will undoubtedly know that they have stumbled onto a legit critique. The comparison of the elderly lead characters is a joy to read, but also lets Joe or Jane Q. Reader know what to expect with the film.

Soul of Despair will be remembered as a fantastic piece on character and hope. LaSalle digs deep to explore the mindsets of the lead characters, and allows one to understand the subtleties of the performances from Bruce Dern and Will Forte. The piece has a soothing quality, and one’s soul will certainly not be in despair. The average reader might even cry out “Dang you, Mickster” simply from pure joy.

By the end of Soul of Despair, LaSalle comes close to reaching a hypnotic quality in the review with thoughts on hope and the perils of aging. Elderly readers may find great solace in this section, and younger folk will surely become lost in thought. One particularly enjoyable moment of the conclusion comes during LaSalle’s commentary on the black and white cinematography, which is “not the glossy black and white of Frances Ha.” Poignant and rich.

Soul of Despair is essential reading. Fans of LaSalle have apparently contacted San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore in an effort to let the critic read his insightful reviews on stage.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation