4 March 2006 | inframan
So disappointing after a pretty promising start
This film starts off with a great flourish, with Damian Lewis doing a perfectly tuned & on-target portrayal of a calm cool feral madman entrepreneur of the 1960s or 1970s, Paul Reynolds, surrounded by a collection of pretentious sycophants whose archetypes range back to the early Roman era. They party & posture amid Paul's palatial estate when Lizzie strolls in. Straight & serious Lizzie, for whom Paul develops an inexplicable attraction that ultimately leads to his & the film's doom. Lizzie, fresh from secretarial school, is hired by Paul as his personal assistant, although she never displays any sign of business or political aptitude. Given the task of organizing Paul's large collection of notes & papers into some kind of accessibility, she proudly shows him her accomplishment: everything's been prettily packaged & shelved in four color groups of boxes, no labels in sight, apparently interpreting her duties to be interior decoration.
As played by Jodhi May, Lizzie splits her emotive energies between the coy tilted head smirks teenage girls give dad when they want $80 for new jeans and hysterical outbursts that make you wonder if this takes place in an alternate universe without the benefits of psychotherapy.
There are other problems in placing this film in a known universe, although it tries hard to represent specific points in time. Early on, Paul dreamily says to Lizzie, "Computers, you should get into computers, that's where the future is. Women used to prevail in the field of computers but now the the guys are taking over." Oh yeah?
The film becomes increasingly choppy & episodic as it proceeds. I began to feel as though I were watching a version of "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are dead" (sans Shakespeare or Stoppard) as done by Ed Wood, i.e. all the real action taking place in another universe.
Vague generalizations substitute for plot movement, grand statements about corporations being hippos & the future of business being in telecommunications & the internet, not vacuum cleaners. Unh hunh. No mention of laptops or cell phones.
Too bad. The first 20 minutes on Paul's estate & the ideas driving Friends & Crocodiles had a lot of promise. Great title, too. But the title's explanation, like the rest of the movie, are a terrible letdown.