20 November 2007 | mjsinclair
A mixed bag
This is a film of contrasts. A good story let down by poor dialogue; some great acting as well as some mediocre and good direction marred by irritating and indiscriminate "motion blur" filming.
The film has the elements and sometimes the feel of a charming love story, a modern-day fairy tale. The gentleness and innocence of the two main characters is in sharp contrast to the world inhabited by the secondary characters, where addiction to alcohol, gambling, desperation and suicide are the order of the day.
Jude Law as Jeremy seems to have lost the plot. His half-hearted attempts at a Manchester accent are woeful. Why bother with the accent anyway? He is a coffee shop owner in NY, and his origins have no bearing whatsoever on the storyline. However, his natural charisma and his gentle demeanour do suit the role, and he pairs well with Norah Jones as Elizabeth.
As for the flaws; is there ever total silence outside in the street in NY at night? And would customers really give their house keys to the person behind the counter in a coffee shop, to be kept in a glass jar? And would customers ever be known not by name, but by what they eat? And is there anyone in Manchester actually called Jeremy? As for Norah Jones, although she is on screen for most of the film, she does not have a lot to do or say which is just as well really. She spends most of her time watching in silent, doe-eyed admiration, as she is given a master class in acting by the "real" actors.
The *real" actors here are David Strathairn and Rachel Weisz. Strathairn gives a memorable, finely crafted performance as Arnie, who is a cop by day and an alcoholic barfly by night. Rachel Weisz as Sue Lynne his beautiful, wild, estranged wife makes full use of her short time on screen to create a wayward, tumultuous character at once sensuous, and sensitive. Between them they steal the show.
But gripes aside, the director does manage to create an appealing, if flawed, film. It's a mixed bag. It's good in parts.