Monday, November 10, 2014

The Lookalike

Another month, another attempt to support indie/world tweeners (too offbeat for the multiplexes, too lightweight for the arthouses) playing the Boston area with money. Sometimes, unfortunately, that means you see a stinker, and you do it with just one other person in the room - and to be totally honest, I kind of suspect he wasn't really supposed to be there from the way an usher honed in on him during the movie.

One thing I noticed while looking at the IMDB listing for it - director Richard Gray and writer Michele Davis-Gray are apparently in pre-production on a remake of Audition to shoot and be released next year. Good luck with that, guys. I mean that sincerely - if that's going to happen, I'd rather it be good, and that applies to any movie - and I can almost see how the problems I had with The Lookalike might seem like assets for this one: Starting odd and offbeat and then going very dark indeed was what Takashi Miike did fifteen years ago and it made his name, but he didn't just go dark but nuts, and there was an idea at the center of Miike's film, and I'm not sure that's the case with The Lookalike. There are connected characters, and various bits that may be shocking, but no central thrust to make up for the letdown when the audience realizes that this isn't really going to be fun after a certain point.


There's also a sort of secondary ugliness here in how by and large women and to a lesser extent minorities are killed in a very casual, off-hand way, while the white males fight back and need to be taken down. I don't think the Grays really mean anything by that, but it's the sort of thing that seems like it would be part of a discouraging pattern when you look at a lot of this sort of movie.


The Lookalike

* * (out of four)
Seen 7 November 2014 in Apple Cinemas Cambridge #9 (first-run, DCP)

To say that The Lookalike starts out kind of charming overlooks what happens in the first few minutes to set things in motion, but it still does well enough in introducing its cast of characters that it looks like the rare crime movie that makes quirky work despite being built a core of bad people doing bad things. That's hard to sustain for the full length of a movie, though, and this one starts losing steam early enough to be a real drag by the end.

There's a girl out there, Sadie, that retiring crime boss William Spinks (John Savage) will pay half a million dollars to sleep with, and having found her, Bobby (John Corbett) and Frank (Steven Bauer) probably have the inside track to taking over his business. Except, well, they screwed up and she's no longer available. Meanwhile, one of Bobby's best dealers, former college hoops star Joe Mulligan (Jerry O'Connell) is looking to quit, having paid his father's gambling debts to Vincent (Luis Guzman), and although on the one hand he could use a little money to shoot that pilot for a cooking show, on the other he's just met a really nice girl, Mila (Scottie Thompson). Back at Joe's apartment, his brother Holt (Justin Long) has a run-in with Lacey (Gillian Jacobs), one of Joe's customers, and they connect. Of course, they're both hiding something as well.

Writer Michele Davis-Gray shovels a fair amount of stuff into the script, sometimes to seeming excess - not only has Mila recently lost her hearing, but she's got a prosthetic leg, for example; she also just happens to cross paths with Sadie early on in a way that brings another player into the story. Oh, and Lacey is apparently a hairdo away from being a dead ringer for Sadie, which is kind of convenient. Still, in the early going, she and director Richard Gray (and the cast) make it work. Things may be in bad taste, but they'll come with a jolt, or the odd incongruities will amuse. Plus, the fact that Joe is far from the only character involved who really doesn't want to be in the business of hurting people may not push grimness away entirely, but the fact the characters have better natures does make things more fun and a bit unpredictable.

Full review at EFC.

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