And there were a lot of great ones this year. I will also say something even (possibly) bolder–that Kevin Spacey gives the performance of his career. And all us movie geeks know that is saying a LOT, given this man’s past roles, and his talent. I used to think he was overrated as an actor. Then I figured OK, I see what all the fuss is about. Now, he’s up there with my favorite actors of all time, with James Woods, Steve Buscemi, Robert Deniro…probably in the top 5.
I was lucky enough to see a free screening this afternoon and boy, am I glad I had the privilege. In fact, this review might not even be that coherent- it’s one of those movies that blows you away so much that you have trouble even putting your feelings into words.
The plotline sounds trite when you first describe it (it did to me when I first heard about it), Spacey plays a man who describes himself as a loser, with Annette Bening as his horrible, shrewish, self-absorbed, pathetic b*tch of a wife. His daughter is not all that likeable either, despite the fact that you can understand why she turned out this way, with her as a mother. Just when you think you’ve met the most dysfunctional family in the world outside of “Happiness”, you find out about the family who just moved in next door. At first, the strange son seems like the most messed-up member of their brood, but after you get to meet his ex-military, abusive, homophobic, terrifying father and his withdrawn, sad, headcase mother, you realize he is the most normal member of the household by far. Then, the filmwriters toss in Kevin Spacey’s lustful obsession with his daughter’s sexkitten cheerleader friend, which trust me, is a lot more fun, entertaining, and amusing than it sounds when you read about it. Soon, he is having the most entertaining, amusing midlife crisis ever seen in the history of cinema. He just doesn’t give a ***k about what he does or says anymore, and you only wish you could get away with doing the things he does.
I found myself laughing out loud in this movie so many times, most of it horrified, amazed laughter at what is happening and the things that are coming out of the character’s mouths, especially Spacey’s. He had at least a dozen lines that had every member of the audience in hysterics and actual applause and cheers.
I can’t say enough good things about this movie. You think, after the first five minutes, that you know how the movie will end. Well, Spacey’s opening narrative does give it away, but trust me, the events unfold in a way that you will NEVER see coming. You will swear you can see what a character is going to do next, what violent or self-destructice act they will commit, but you turn out to be wrong.
Without getting too pretentious here, the movie lives up to it’s theme/tagline of “…look closer”. THe characters are not what they seem, up until the end, and even then they surprise you. At least two characters that you are POSITIVE you have figured out, do or say something that turns all your preconceptions of them upside down, while making your jaw drop, and your heart ache. You will leave the movie with a smile, though, and that is maybe what I expected least of all.
Words just cannot do this movie justice.
See it for yourself.