The Lookout (Miramax, R)

lookout2Writer Scott Frank (Out of Sight) makes his directorial debut with this movie and has done an excellent job taking a fairly simple story, adding all the right pieces, and making an intriguing film. Frank's screenplay is delightfully down-to-earth for a crime drama.

 

lookout

What hath Tarantino wrought? Ever since Pulp Fiction exploded onto the scene, the crime drama genre has been stuffed to bursting with copycat films. Convoluted character connections? Check. Sudden bursts of ultra-brutality? Got it. A cast full of recognizable faces in smallish parts? Easy.

There's something to be said for blissfully simple suspense, a little bit of violence, and a straight-ahead story. A story with good guys, bad guys, and some really bad decisions. That's exactly what The Lookout has. And it uses everything to awesome effect.

Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was a hometown hero. An intelligent and charismatic high-school hockey star with rich parents, lots of friends, and a seemingly charmed life. Everyone's hopes for his future are cut short when a tragic prom night accident leaves Chris permanently damaged, both mentally and physically.

"College" for Chris means hours of physical therapy and "sequencing" exercises so he can learn to process information like a normal person again. Four years into his treatment, he's working the night shift as a small-town bank janitor and living in a craptastic little apartment (for once nowhere near New York or L.A.) with Lewis (Jeff Daniels), his much older, blind roommate.

Chris' quiet life makes a sudden turn when he meets Gary (Matthew Goode) at the local bar. Unaccustomed to strangers making conversation with him, Chris quickly falls in with Gary and his motley group of buds. It's not long before Chris makes a choice that could destroy everything he's managed to build for himself.

The Lookout gets so many things right it's difficult to know where to start. Writer Scott Frank (Out of Sight) makes his directorial debut with this movie and has done an excellent job taking a fairly simple story, adding all the right pieces, and making an intriguing film. Frank's screenplay is delightfully down-to-earth for a crime drama. There are no cryptic clues to follow or Keyser Soze moments. We know who the players are and what they want very early on. I enjoy twists and surprises as much as anyone, but (in this case) it was refreshing to know exactly what was going on at all times.

This almost makes me think that most films of the genre, with their "shocking revelations," use those twists just to show the audience how clever the filmmakers are. Guess what, guys? We don't care that much. We just want to see a good movie. Besides, a crime movie that doesn't rely on big disclosures but still works would seem to take more smarts anyway.

The performances in this movie are stunning, with Levitt and Daniels as the two real standouts. Levitt has come a long way since his days as Tommy on 3rd Rock from the Sun. Actors usually get a lot of love for playing severe mental and physical disabilities, and Levitt does something equally tricky, but generally less praised, in The Lookout. Chris can hold a job and get around on his own, but if you talk to him you'll realize he's sort of vaguely…not right. Levitt manages to play someone who's a bit off, but remembers the time when he had all his wits about him, ever so slightly. It's all in Chris' eyes when people talk to him. An audience which enjoys subtleties will hit the jackpot here.

I'm going to go out on a limb and make an early award prediction: Daniels will win something for his role as Lewis. He is, like Chris, someone who's had to learn hard from his mistakes. Lewis is brusque, streetwise, and a bit pushy, but ultimately a good and charming guy. He's the perfect counterpoint for Chris, and Daniels makes him into a man anyone would be lucky to call an ally. | Adrienne Jones

http://thelookout-movie.com/ 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply