You think he’s looking at Robert De Niro, looking at Wesley Snipes?


Theatrical Release Date: 04/26/2013
Director: Dante Ariola
Cast: Colin Firth, Emily Blunt, Anne Heche, Sterling Beaumon, Kristin Lehman
Rated: R for Brief Drug Use, Sexual Content, and Language.
Runtime: 1 hour, 41 minutes


Trailer:

He’s seen all he needs to see.

Loyal readers know that if I could inject one emotion into a film, it would be melancholy. I love a good wallow and if there’s one thing that Arthur Newman is able to do, it’s allow the main characters to feel, experience, and dwell on their pain.

Starring Brits Colin Firth and Emily Blunt playing American, the story is a tad bit complicated and spoilery so I’ll just give a quick summary. Essentially, the pair of them meet at turbulent times in their own separate lives and wind up together on a road trip, each attempting to escape some element of their past and finding in one another a kindred spirit and perhaps something more.

Performance wise, they’re both pretty much on-point. I sensed a good deal of A Single Man in Firth and Sunshine Cleaning in Blunt but seeing as there were some similar emotional states going on for each of them, I suppose those comparisons are inevitable. What sells the movie is the manner in which they connect to each other; there’s this poignant and beautiful sadness that gives the characters the safety to be honest in a way that they obviously aren’t able to be with anyone else in their limited social circles.

The tone of the movie is evident from the opening, thanks to first-time feature director Dante Ariola. He lets the camera linger on the characters as they attempt to work through the emotions and thoughts rattling around in their head, looking for a way out. There’s nothing too showy about his style and it’s clear he understood that this was about character studies, not a traditional a-b-c narrative.

To that end, there’s really only one clear negative, which made appreciating and attempting to recommend this movie so hard to do – the script. Becky Johnston hasn’t been credited with a screenplay in quite some time (you have to go back to 97′s Seven Years in Tibet and 91′s The Prince of Tides) and for whatever that may be worth, the manner in which Firth and Blunt pick up and leave their everyday lives behind them is a bit truncated. Just hours after seeing the movie, I’m still trying to process and balance their selfishness versus their pain. I think we all can identify with the desire to run away and start fresh but actually doing it is at a whole other level, one which shouldn’t be so easy to come back from.

One other thing to keep in mind is that as far as dramedies go these days, this is definitely on the darker and more dramatic side of the scale. There are certainly some funny moments and there’s such a freeing and endearing quality to the relationship that forms between Firth and Blunt; but the film is usually quite quick to remind the audience that this isn’t just a happy go lucky jaunt in a BMW convertible.

This is something I’m going to want to see again a little later down the road, to determine if the emotion it stirred can be replicated or if it was partially a by-product of a week that already feels long (and I’m writing this on a Monday). I went into it blind, only knowing it starred Firth and Blunt, though I can be definite about feeling justified in that decision. Their performances, their chemistry, and the film’s mood were all up my alley. Hopefully, whatever I’ve just rambled off will help you determine if it’ll be up yours.

(And yes, I just ended a review with “up yours” … don’t be so narcissistic, this time it’s just a figure of speech. Geez.)

3.5 out of 5