Monday, 10 October 2011

Three-in-One Reviews: The Art of Getting By, The Devil’s Double, Trust;

It’s been almost two months since I saw all three of the films in the title above, and really my laziness in addition to a general lack of inspiration for each review has resulted in the current situation where neither of the three has been given an official grade or even mentioned on the blog. There’s little that ties the three together, at least on an ostensible level. But, I think I have a good enough to knack to unite even the most obscure of facets. And, what’s more, the way to deal with this trio sort of jumps out at me.
Freddie Highmore, Clive Owen and Dominic Cooper don’t really have anything in common and neither would rank among my favourite actors (even if I'm hopeful that Cooper will get a brilliant role soon-ish to prove my belief that he’s a great actor in waiting). I will say, though, that my interest in each of the three films was buttressed by the inclusion of each of the three actors. For Highmore and Cooper it was a chance to see if either had matured enough to be the lead in a film. Highmore is that odd time in life for child actor, and it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll be as interesting as an older teen actor as much as he was a child. And, Cooper’s shown up in countless films giving good supporting turns (Mamma Mia, Captain America, An Education) so the prospect of him holding down a film was a big draw. Owen is another story, I intimated recently that my favourite performance of his was Shoot ‘Em Up but he’s never really a draw for me. He seems to act so rarely, though, Trust drew my attention. Three reviews follow, 200 words or less....

The Art of Getting By directed and written by Gavin Wiesen
There’s something especially exasperating about a film which wears its ideology on its sleeves so garishly and without the least attempt at subtlety. The Art of Getting By is a coming-of-age film, and really it seems intent on being little more which naturally gives it a feeling of being especially trivial as it achieves it endpoint (said coming-of-age) in the most unimaginative of ways. I'm willing to believe that Highmore shall grow into an interesting young actor, because he’s managed to retain the slightly offbeat charm of his younger self mixed with a surprising amount of pathos. He’s a troubled youth who doesn’t do any of his homework assignment and worried about his mortality. This much is acceptable. The journey, though, which it takes him on from pining to the popular girl to a requisite bonding moment with his mother and then an eventual realisation of the importance of the system and whatnot, is embarrassingly prosaic. And, yet, I don’t the film. There’s an ironic amount of freshness in Wiesen’s direction considering the staleness of his story and considering it’s his first feature, it’s not completely unimpressive. And, Elizabeth Reaser in a clichéd role is rather fascinating to watch.

The Devil’s Double directed by Lee Tamahori
Art in its many forms has long had proclivity to delve into the concept of the mirror image – twins, doppelgangers, clones – all of them resting on the two parts of a purported whole with conflicting sensibilities. Tamahori  is given the opportunity to examine the motif in an adaption of somewhat realistic proportions in the form of Sadaam Husein’s son Uday and his reluctant body double Latif. The film, never completely adhering to a tenets of a biopic – not even a pseudo one – does not utilise the concept of the double image that well, either. What we have is a story of the near sadistic Uday and opposing, and impossibly arid Latif and the eventual parting of ways between the two. Considering the overflow of baggage which accompanies a story about Husein, even peripherally, the film falls decidedly limp in that aspect, too.Uday is so demonic he gives Cooper a chance to be gripping but never poignant and our double Latif is too stoic to be interesting to watch, which means the concept of the polar opposite doesn’t really work as well as it could. Cooper is surrounded by actors given even less to do, which renders essentially useless. In terms of delivering on visceral thrills Tamahori gets a number of things right, but in terms of actual narrative and character insight he mostly fails.

Trust directed by David Schwimmer
Schwimmer’s tale of a family divided by an internet predator is one with a sharp focus and a small scope. Despite its effectiveness it’s a bit to its detriment because there’s a constant feeling of the film acting as a PSA – albeit an excellent one – for its cause as it achieves it purposes all to good effect but never beyond that, never reaching that level of emotional poignancy that you’d hope for this precise type of family drama. It ends up being a story of father and daughter as Keener’s mother is pushed to the sideline (which is a shame) as the vengeful father and the angry daughter deal with the “molestation”. Owen and Liberato smoulder as father and daughter, and considering the endpoint it’s a shame the film didn’t just begin with that focus from the get-go. It’s still satisfying though, and Viola Davis as a counsellor and Chris Henry Coffey as the predator give two short, but excellent performances.
Trust B (Clive Owen in Trust B+)
The Devil’s Double C- (Dominic Cooper in The Devil’s Double B)
The Art of Getting By C- (Freddie Highmore in The Art of Getting By B-/C+)
Did you see any of the three?


Walter L. Hollmann said...

Thank you for reminding me -- I *did* see The Devil's Double! Not a bad way to waste two hours, but it clearly didn't stick with me. I liked Cooper all right, but I did find Latif to be desperately dull, especially beside that rabid Uday.

I didn't get to see the others. Hell, I don't even remember Trust coming out!

Ryan T. said...

I wanted to see The Devil's Double and The Art of Getting By, but just never got around to. I'll wait until they appear on Netflix, but your reviews were quite enlightening.

The AZ Cinema Experiment said...

I am so on the fence about Owen. I honestly liked him in Children Of Men but his recent action heavy films have been really making me second guess him. Not that all action movies are poorly written just that recent ones don't seem to hold my interest. However Trust seems like it may be more of a stretch for him. I think I might try renting it at least. After all a B rating isn't bad.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

walter latif IS dull, dull, dull. the movie is fine, but not exceptional. cooper is good, though. looking forward to more from him.

ryan hmmm, enlightening? never got that one before.

az cinema experiment well, I LOVED shoot 'em up which is unlike me, but there you go. and a B rating is solid from me, everything from b-/c+ is a recommendation for me. i grade harshly, or so i've ehard.

Current Movie Reviews said...

Yeah ....this is a fantastic movie and the role of cooper was realy mind blowing but i thing in a certain areas he can do better as he is there.....