19 November 2007 | mjsinclair
A Tale of Two Brothers
Woody Allen has a genius for creating fully fledged characters in minimum time. A few minutes into the opening scene which shows the two brothers buying a boat that they cannot afford, we already understand that theirs is a genuine, close and mutually supportive relationship a relationship which will be severely tested later on.
Two brothers aspiring to improve their lives in very different ways: one hoping to win enough money through gambling on dogs and poker, the other through investing in restaurants and property in Los Angeles.
Two brothers who both need money for very different reasons: one to escape the clutches of loan sharks who would break his legs, the other to escape to LA with the beautiful, sophisticated woman of his dreams.
Two brothers dealing with guilt and remorse in very different ways: one suffering ever deepening mental anguish and sleepless nights, the other pragmatically shrugging off "the past" as he ambitiously plans his future.
Shot in London, with an all British cast, the standard of acting is of the highest quality. The brothers' contrasting personalities are played to perfection by Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor. Hayley Atwell (who like McGregor, also trained at the Guildhall School in London), would give Scarlett Johansson a run for her money as the sexy, sultry, siren, while Sally Hawkins shines as Farrell's homely, happy girlfriend.
With unremarkable, minimalist music from Philip Glass, matched by minimalist opening and closing credits, and editing which leaves-in scenes which should have been taken out, the film gives the impression that it was made in a hurry.
Yes, this is a film from a Woody Allen, who is not at his very best. However, at nearly 72 years of age and after writing and directing over 40 films, receiving 3 Oscars and over 77 other awards, his genius is surely entitled to a day off. This time it is the actors who carry the day.