It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness. This movie is wilfully goofy but feels oddly irrelevant, focussing on a colourful central character who never quite seems like a real person. Woody Harrelson pours plenty of energy, humour and emotion into the title role, but it's difficult to identify with this optimistic curmudgeon. Still, quite a few moments are genuinely hilarious.
Harrelson plays Wilson, a guy who can't resist saying whatever he thinks, even though it annoys pretty much anyone within earshot. He over-shares with strangers, complains constantly about everything and refuses to stop offering unwanted advice. In his mind he's making the word a better place, but his life is a mess. And when his father dies, he realises that he has no friends left aside from his dog Pepper. Leaving Pepper with a neighbour (Judy Greer), Wilson tracks down his ex-wife Pippi (Laura Dern) and is shocked to learn that she gave birth to his daughter after they split up, giving the baby up for adoption. So Wilson goes on a quest to find the now 17-year-old Claire (Isabella Amara), barging into her life in the hope of rescuing his own.
There are very few characters in this film who can bear to be in the same room as Wilson, a man with no manners who has no idea that he is rubbing everyone the wrong way. And for the audience, it's not much better to be in his presence for the length of this 94-minute movie. Harrelson is charming, but the script has Wilson veering from giddy to angry to cruel and back, which is a serious challenge for the actor to play consistently. That Harrelson manages it is no mean feat. Opposite him, Dern and Greer are terrific as his long-suffering foils. And Amara takes every opportunity to steal scenes out from under her veteran costars.
Continue reading: Wilson Review
Mike (Giamatti) is a New Jersey lawyer struggling to make ends meet when he discovers he can earn a bit extra as the guardian of senile client Leo (Young).
But his wife Jackie (Ryan) only finds out when Leo's 16-year-old grandson Kyle (Shaffer) turns up needing a place to stay while his mother (Lynskey) goes through rehab. To keep him busy, Mike invites Kyle along to the wrestling practice he coaches with his friends (Tambor and Cannavale). Surprise: Kyle's a gifted wrestler who may help the team win for a change.
Continue reading: Win Win Review
For Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins), existence is a stifled sleepwalk of commitments and complaints. He hates teaching. He hates faculty politics. He especially hates the lonely life he leads as a widower. His wife long dead, Vale just can't find a purpose. Forced to travel from his new home in Connecticut to his old apartment in New York City to present a paper, he discovers two strangers living there. As illegals, Arab Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and African Zainab (Danai Jekesai Gurira) have no real place to go, so Vale reluctantly lets them stay. When the Syrian Tarek is wrongfully arrested and detained, our quiet professor becomes his champion. The arrival of Tarek's mother (Hiam Abbass) from Michigan makes matters more complicated.
Continue reading: The Visitor Review
Right from the beginning we are brought into the leisurely pace of Fin's ascetic life. He doesn't eat or drink much, he spends his days studying old trains or reading about them, and he walks almost everywhere because he can't drive and he doesn't like crowded buses or trains. And it's pretty obvious why; every time he gets around people they stare at him and make comments.
Continue reading: The Station Agent Review
Those are the first words spoken in Mysterious Skin, and they come from Brian Lackey (Brady Corbet), a distressed 18 year-old, born and raised in a small Kansas community. The last thing he remembers about that night is rainfall interrupting his softball game, and then waking up at home with a nosebleed, five hours later. Plagued by unexplainable nightmares, blackouts, and more nosebleeds, Brain is convinced aliens abducted him during those mysterious five hours of his youth...
Continue reading: Mysterious Skin Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.
It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....
As with The Station Agent and The Visitor, McCarthy creates a series of encounters for...
Meet Finbar McBride. Besides having a cool name, Finbar's (Peter Dinklage) most noticeable attribute is...
The summer I was eight years old, five hours disappeared from my life. Five hours,...