29 June 2015 | sfhayes
Dark comedy at its finest
It's the movie that won the hearts and minds – as well as the Best Canadian Feature prize – at last year's Edmonton International Film Festival.
Lawrence and Holloman is the perfect movie for the intellectual cynic in all of us.
This is a movie that has a lot going for it, too. It's smart and funny, all in one package. Okay, so it's a dark comedy so don't expect Adam Sandler-style guffaws to come out of the audience.
Holloman (Arnold) is our complicated protagonist, a guy who is hanging on at the end of the rope. He doesn't have much going on for him: a dead-end job, a non-existent love life and a pretty bleak outlook on things in general. I guess there are a few good reasons why he carries a loaded handgun around in his briefcase. At first, he fantasizes about using it on himself to end his misery.
And then he meets Lawrence (Cotton), the eternally perky and infectiously gleeful co-worker who smiles, laughs and dances his way through his entire existence. He can do no wrong, at least not at the beginning of the movie.
He's not the brightest bulb though, not by a long stretch, but he has his charms. Perhaps you've known a fellow like this in your real life, too. He's someone who gets away with far too much with far too few consequences. Holloman must suffer not only his own morbid outlook on life but also his unlikely companion's brash and boisterous persona.
Lawrence is the perfect foil for the downtrodden Holloman. It's an ideal 'odd couple' situation that takes a great Trading Places turn. As Lawrence takes Holloman under his wing to teach him a few life lessons about aptitudes, attitudes and girls.
But bad things start happening to Lawrence and they don't stop. He loses his dog and then a wasps' nest falls on his head. His fiancée finds out that he's been cheating. Some money goes missing at work and he's the prime suspect.
"These things happen," he tells Holloman with sting marks all over his face. "Life has its ups and downs, its ebbs
" Indeed. At the same time, Holloman's life starts taking an upswing, the lessons of his newfound friend gaining some traction upon his personality and behaviour.
There is a lot to be said for filmmakers who can take such an interesting story line and flesh it out on screen without wasting anybody's precious time. L&H clocks in at just under 90 minutes but feels like two hours. That's entertainment value for your hard-earned dollar if I may say so.
Plus, it leaves you wanting more. The characters, while disagreeable each in their own ways, make a great pair. You want more out of their lives. You want more of their story. And the ending is something that simply must be experienced for yourself. There's a lot to learn and to think about there in one powerful scene.
A lot of the credit for this goes back to co-screenwriters Arnold and Kowalchuk for crafting such a darkly humorous but engaging couple of characters. Without them, this simple but philosophical film would come off as either too heavy or too light. It's certainly an existential quandary that is at the heart of the screenplay and Arnold (the actor) and Cotton make sure that they work together well enough to keep us all along for the ride.
The writing is top notch. The acting is superlative. The directing is as sharp as a razor and the production values don't belie the film's fairly modest budget. Plus, it can be appreciated at a superficial or deeper level, depending on your personality.
All films should be like Lawrence and Holloman. If only the world were perfect...