michael dworkis looks at an excellent film noir starring joseph gordon-levitt…
Release Date: 3/30/2007
First Saw It: Sometime last year
What Drew Me to See It: Bored on Netflix
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Isla Fisher, Laure Vandervoort
Before They Were Stars Appearances: Two female stars in this film inevitably made their breakout onto the big screen. Having played minor roles in prior films, Laura Vandervoort and Tinsel Korey are have starred in popular hits. Vandervoort played innocent Lisa on the television show V and Supergirl on Smallville, while Korey landed a role as Emily in the Twilight Saga films.
Director: Scott Frank
The Best Performance: It goes to Gordon-Levitt. He is very convincing as Chris Pratt, young man who knows he screwed up, and as he hopes to find some form of salvation. He needs to write things down in a notepad in order to remember anything he does. He is unable to filter thoughts before speaking. He is a sad mess, a shell of a human being and he just wants to belong again. He wants to escape the bottomless pit of misery he lives in. He knows his alliance with his new friend-gang-leader is wrong, but he is desperate for friends, for help, for anyone who will care. By the end of the film, Chris is a hero. Not just on screen, but you feel for him, you cry with him, you celebrate him.
The Supporting Scene Stealer: Jeff Daniels portrays Lewis perfectly. His Lebowski-like behavior is the perfect lighthearted character needed for this serious story. His timing, his charming interjections of humor perfectly make him the stealer. Is there one scene to support this? No. It is Daniels at his best throughout the film.
The Moment to Remember: BLAM! With a single gunshot, he takes down Bone (Greg Dunham) and Chris (Gordon-Levitt) just watches as Gary (Matthew Goode) slowly dies from blood loss. Chris turns himself in to the authorities. They say he is not responsible because of his mental disability, but then the truth is shown where he was forced to cooperate or be killed. The whole scene just hits you like the shotgun blast ending the fight. You feel sad that Chris resorted to killing, but you knew something big was going to happen. Yes, one might feel it might have been a cop-out for the FBI to release him because of his mental problems (so his disability saved him?), but at least they quickly show how he was forced into working for the gang.
The Memorable Quote: There were quite a few. Lewis (Jeff Daniels), taking his blindness in stride and using cynicism to get himself through. In a scene about his romantic life, Lewis says “I get turned down more times than the beds at the Holiday Inn.”
The Groan Moment: Luvlee (Fisher) is lovely… get it? Anyway, she seduces Chris while you sit and cringe. You feel the germs and diseases flying about her like fruit flies. It sickens the viewer to watch it.
Why I Can’t Stop Watching It: Although the film had many predictable moments such as the gang leader befriending Chris (Gordon-Levitt) or the lusty temptations of a criminal woman, the pure evil of using someone with brain damage to help them made the film. Halfway through, you HATED those gang members. You wanted so badly for Chris to regain his senses or have that moment of clarity where he takes the gang down and at the end you felt damn proud of him.