Seen at the Museum of the Moving Image, Riklis Theatre, at a preview screening on Thursday March 6, 2008. 3.5 Slithy Toads
I hadn't heard much about this movie before the screening invitation arrived, and I don't think I knew anything about the director at all, but with a very reliable cast that includes Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson, Pierce Brosnan and Rachel McAdam, how bad could it be? And the night was open on my calendar, and the price (free) was right. More than worth it; it's not a great movie but it's more than passable.
SInce this is an indie release that may not get everywhere, a quickie synopsis. It's set in 1949, in Seattle but could be pretty much any place, and Chris Cooper is a salaryman who'd like to leave his wife (Clarkson) for the alluring McAdam. He shares this news with his friend Pierce Brosnan, who narrates, and Brosnan tells us that he quickly has his eyes set on getting McAdam for himself. Cooper decides it would be kinder to poison his wife than to leave her, and she turns out to be having an affair of her own. It's a bit of a roundelay, with some tension, some laughs, some sex. And it's entertaining throughout.
What keeps me from liking it more is what I wouldn't have expected, which is the very reliable cast that isn't always here. It's hard to know how much of it is the fault of the direction and how much the fault of the actors, but there are too many off notess. Rachel McAdam in particular looks like she's playing dress-up in her role of the ingenue, and strikes off notes left and right. Chris Cooper seems ill at ease at times. There are moments when he's as powerful and solid as you would expect him to be, but others when he too seems to be playing dress-up. And it's a period piece, but Pierce Brosnan seems to be in a period all his own. Not in the time of the movie, not quite the contemporary Brosnan of, let's say, The Matador, but stuck in a kind of limbo state. I felt as if there were times when the script or direction wanted to drag Patricia Clarkson into a limbo state of her own, but she ends up being the most successful at finding a note and tone that sustains her performance consistently.
For all its flaws, I liked the playfulness of this movie much more than the stolid earnestness of the somewhat similarly intentioned Far From Heaven.
- The Brillig Blogger
- A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.