October 26th, 2010
11:00 AM ET
If you haven’t yet viewed the entirety of Kanye West’s “Runaway,” it’s likely that you’ve been avoiding it since the film's premiere on Saturday.
Between the speculation on his inspiration and what the metaphors reveal to the positive response that’s accumulating for model Selita Ebanks, West’s work – quite similar to about everything else he does – has been difficult to ignore.
But in the spirit of keeping even the least pop culture savvy among you informed, here’s a brief rundown of critical reactions to West’s 34-minute opus in which Ebanks, as a superhumanly beautiful phoenix, falls from the sky and then in love with West, only to discover that she must burn and return to her world. (You can watch the video here.)
U.K. newspaper The Guardian deems the piece as “ridiculous, ostentatious and egotistical,” but adds, “that's what West is here for. If he wants to show off his love of Matisse-style visuals, Jacko and Bon Iver, then what's the harm?”
While the Boston Herald also didn't find any harm done with West's work, the reviewer believes the piece, as a whole, was lacking. “It may make sense in Kanye’s mind, but ‘Runaway' doesn’t add up to compelling viewing,” the Herald says. “Judged in pieces, there are more than a few sparkling moments…. But the mood is ruined by the wooden dialogue (written by Hype Williams, a director not exactly known for his subtle touch) and too many slow-motion explosions.”
Forbes, meanwhile, took a different approach, and recognized how this film – love it or hate it – will keep audiences ready and waiting for West’s forthcoming album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”
“It’s easy to digest the piece as a story about his talent- crashing in, being beautiful, trying to silence the noise while being loud. In metaphor, the film talks back to the media, and everyone that wanted to have a voice, after berating Kanye for interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at MTV’s Video Music Awards last year,” the Forbes reviewer notes. “Like the dinner scene in ‘Runaway,’ he acknowledges the conversation, turns his back on it, and celebrates himself and his phoenix. That’s what rock stars do…. What we are witnessing, is a lesson in sustainable branding.”
Lastly, Entertainment Weekly’s review advises the viewer eager to write off "Runaway" to think twice.
“Take it as a metaphor for how West feels about the acceptance of not necessarily his music, but his public behavior (epitomized by the West-Taylor Swift VMA moment,) and you probably wouldn't be wrong,” EW’s reviewer writes. “Given how controversial West's every artistic gesture seems to have become, I have a feeling we'll be in for a round of dismissals of ‘Runaway’ as a pretentious piece. Instead, it deserves to be seen as a carefully modulated art-film made by a man on a mission.”
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