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dir-scr Woody Allen
with Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell, Sally Hawkins, Hayley Atwell, Tom Wilkinson, Clare Higgins, John Benfield, Phil Davis, Jim Carter, Tamzin Outhwaite, Jennifer Higham, Lee Whitlock
release US 18.Jan.08, UK 23.May.08
07/UK Wild Bunch 1h48
Do the right thing: McGregor and Farrell
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Woody Allen's latest morality play feels like a watered-down British variation on the same themes he addressed so expertly in Crimes and Misdemeanors nearly 20 years ago.
Brothers Ian and Terry (McGregor and Farrell) have a relatively simple life in Lodnon with nice girlfriends (Atwell and Hawkins) and big dreams. Terry's luck at the dog track has funded their purchase of a boat, which they rechristen Cassandra's Dream after the winning dog, and now Ian is accumulating money to invest in a chain of California hotels. Then Terry's luck turns and things get desperate, just as their rich Uncle Howard (Wilkinson) arrives with an offer: he'll fund their dreams if they kill his nemesis (Davis).
As usual, Allen is good at digging around in the moral fog of his characters, and it's intriguing to watch Ian and Terry on the slippery slope of minor fibs, inconsequential rule-breaking and general wheeler-dealership, then coming face-to-face with the huge line they don't dare to cross. And if/when they do cross it, how will they react to what they've done. Allen and his cast really grapple with these themes and, by keeping everything light-handed, force us to think as well.
But the acting is uneven, as in most of Allen's recent work. Much of the film's early sections feel flat and awkward, with both McGregor and Farrell straining to achieve a kind of heightened dopiness. But we do warm to it, and the characters deepen into intriguing (but never likeable) people we can identify with. Farrell is especially good in a role that's very different from his equally fine work in In Bruges.
The film also stumbles in its convenient, obvious plot turns, even if much of this is meaningfully thought-provoking, and the film never becomes predictable or cliched. And Allen never fools us with the wilfully stilted dialog; we just wait for him to get to the point. And it does come together with bracing clarity in a clever twist on the moral quagmire of boating classics like Plein Soleil or Knife in the Water. The natural order has been broken and someone will have to pay. And the finale is genuinely haunting in all the right ways.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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