English subtitles were not a problem. 125 minutes was.
Atmospherics, cast and acting were quite good. Some of the (typically French) flashbacks were unnecessary and irritating. Also, much of the middle of the film just seemed to drift - though acting and dialog were so good it didn't seem to matter terribly. Typically French gangster worship with an ethnic twist for good measure. Captured this viewer for a long time.
But the way the plot unfolded we just knew there would be a surprise ending and that there was a good chance the hero would redeem himself. As it turned out, the ending was more than a little contrived and some viewers might just be left feeling used after after enduring over two hours of emotional peaks while still trying to unravel the plot.
There are two truly fine performances by Jenkins and Abbass but their acting skill just couldn't make up for the lack of a of a credible plot and the ideologically driven dialog. This is really a classic feel-good movie for the Left. They get to bleed for the hapless illegals and curse the coldly autocratic INS warders. But because the immigrants in question are, after all, illegal - they can walk home with feelings intact because any unhappiness is the fault of the brutish "system".
The Jenkins character is supposedly fighting a losing battle with depression because of the death of his beloved and talented wife but the writers never articulate the meaning of his loss or the way it connects to the immigrants he eventually befriends. And the device of a burned out academic who travels from Connecticut to New York so his name can is used to exploit the talent of a younger (and naturally female) colleague to explain his return to his long neglected New York apartment is just silly.
Unless you are a post-modern groupie who salivates at the mention of "the others" or are in need of yet one more reason to feel guilty for being an American, the story drags and the manipulation grates.
I find it interesting that professional reviewers are markedly polarized by this film. Most of those who give it low marks seeded to think it was somehow lacking "a center", a "message", a "resolution". I tend to think they want stereotypes instead of interesting characters and action over emotional nuance. What I really love about the film are the complex, flawed, witty, clever, lucky, nasty set of characters. The dialog isn't burdened with the usual sprinkling of sitcom cleverness; it is nicely consistent and true to the personalities of the characters. The story line unfolds evenly and with a great sense of pace. Not necessarily a brilliant film but certainly a pleasure to watch.
Four Weddings and a Funeral meets the Duex ex machine monster. And wins! The first half of the film moves along nicely with warm characters and fairly hot action - but definitely with good taste. But in spite of a numerous the plot twists that are transparently inserted in the second half of the movie to move the viewers emotions along to a happy ending, the warm and clever performance by the female lead carries the day. Marguerite Moreau as the luckless and sometimes feckless and always sexy Jamie Harris makes it all worthwhile. While things should have been wrapped up a couple of scenes earlier, no real harm was done. Just watch it for the joy of her performance.
The best romantic comedy I've seen in years. Not the kind of slick over the top Hollywood stuff by Ben Stiller or Adam Sandler and a lot less syrupy than a Hugh Grant epic. Julianne Nicholson and Jay Mohr are perfectly cast and both deliver smoothly professional performances as the engaged couple who decide to spend a little time sowing their sexual oats before marriage. Instead of playing it strictly for laughs the writers and director concocted a nice blend of human feelings and comedic action. Nicholson is just great as the awkward seductress and Mohr does a great job as the man who reluctantly enters into the game but soon finds himself enjoying his flings a little too much. We see just enough of the supporting characters to nicely round out the plot without distracting from the main story. Andy Richter (earnest friend) and Helen Slater (distraught single-mom) are particularly good. There is enough meaning and emotional complexity to make this a lot more than a standard boy-girl farce. Indeed, with just a little better pacing and a tiny bit more cutting this film would be a top ten comedy.
We watched this on an encore channel and given it's mediocre 2 star rating and age of 14 years we didn't really expect much. First, we aren't connoisseurs of the action flick and maybe it's too uneven to please people who really dote on the genre. There are a couple of places where the plot is advanced without much pretext other than the need to cut to an exciting bit of action. And there are a couple of action scenes that a good editor would simply have cut.
But Willis and Wayans give energetic and nicely tuned performances. Chelsea Field is just perfect in a limited role as the detective's wife. The villains are far better drawn than the usual bunch of lazy thugs. And Danielle Harris steals the show as Darian Hallenbeck, the feisty and foul-mouthed 13 year old daughter. She grows during the film with barely an effort by either writer or actor. A part written with great comic creativity. Really the best thing about a film that has a lot of imaginative lines and action moments.
And there are lots of places in this film where the writers give us lines that are head and shoulders above typical film dialog and way, way beyond the norm for most action movies. A quick guess would be that there were a dozen places where a good line turned up instead of the usual clichés.
I watched this film with my 11 year old grandson and we both enjoyed it a lot.
On the surface it is pretty similar to the standard Disney small town saga. There is the bumbling middle aged parent, the high school in-crowd looming over the new boy in town. There's the venal mayor and the greedy developer. There is the standard conflict of generations between father and son. And, of course, there's the cute girl whom the new boy is crazy about but is afraid to ask out.
But as things turn out the bumbling hero doesn't need any magic or duex machina to move things his way. He is quietly persistent, aware of his follies, and knows when to back off. The new kid in town is accepted in short order, both by the town's perennial loser of a football team and by the pretty girl. And wonder of wonders, the female teen love interest is an honest to goodness pretty girl, not some Britney clone.
The plot and writing stumble a bit toward the end but the ending is both satisfying and believable.
Fine performances and great attention to plot details and settings make up for a rather fanciful plot. Surely keeping the emotional connection between the two leads over such a long time would have been a lot more plausible if there had been a little intimacy during their first night. Indeed, a giggly quickie with politely embarrassed apologies afterward would have fit the plot just fine. Also, there didn't seem to have been a lot of thought put into the search for Sara's name and address. And the writers really could have worked harder to find a plot twist or two at the end to justify the way things came out. But the film moved along nicely and it was really fun to watch an engaging romp put together with intelligent direction.