Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Lookout

I can say quite easily claim that this is the best film I’ve seen in 2007. It absolutely blew me away.

It all starts with the story, but thankfully doesn’t end there. Scott Frank, who has several other screenplay successes (Get Shorty, The Interpreter), has written an involving tale about characters you learn to care for. And he has found the right actors as well to play these memorable parts.

Chris (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young man whose life was turned upside-down when he suffered a car accident a few years earlier. He tries to maintain a normal life, but we find out that he has memory problems and other trauma symptoms caused by the tragedy. He rooms with Lewis (Jeff Daniels) who is blind and helps Chris navigate the world. However, Chris meets a magnetic former high school acquaintance (Matthew Goode) in a bar who has other plans for him.

I’ve only seen Gordon-Levitt in Third Rock from the Sun, and although he did an admirable job there in the slippery medium of comedy, that experience didn’t prepare me for the way he disappeared into his character. Through his skill, you find yourself feeling sorry for the character for living the consequences of the one big mistake he made in his life, and hoping beyond hope that he’ll make good decisions in the future. Jeff Daniels has a volume of film roles behind him; this is clearly one of his best. And Matthew Goode – I first saw him in Match Point, and had to look him up. Who is this guy? I’m glad I did, because when I saw the credits, I didn’t recognize the actor. He had completely changed his appearance, his manner, his voice. He is both vile and fascinating.

The movie is simply filmed, directed by first-timer Frank, who's telling a drama and yet with rather complicated action sequences. I found myself holding my breath to discover the fate of these characters in the taut action and unfolding twists toward the end. The film is slightly reminiscent of Memento, with its tricks of memory. But in one particular way it’s different: The Lookout doesn’t frustrate you by leaving you wondering what the hell just happened.

Watch The Lookout. Watch what happens.

Thumb’s up.


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