I was really looking forward to this movie. It’s an indie drama that’s been getting a lot of raves and the central casting of John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as an aging gay couple dealing with hardship seemed like it could be really great. Unfortunately, I was incredibly disappointed by the film. Lithgow and Molina are both as good as you expect, but the script is clunky, filled with stupid coincidences, sloppy characterization. And unfortunately the rest of the cast isn’t up to snuff. Marisa Tomei is fine in a supporting role, but the guy playing her husband, Darren Burrows, gives one of the worst performances I’ve seen in a theater in a few years probably, even worse than Wagner Moura’s dreadful turn in Elysium. And it doesn’t help when he’s yelling horrible lines like, “When someone your age steals something, it’s usually because he’s into drugs” at his son. And the son . . . oh, God. That would be Charlie Tahan and he’s also brutally awful. Which is doubly unfortunate since director Ira Sachs decides to give him, not one, but two really protracted “powerfully dramatic” moments near the end. In the first, he does what is, I am not exaggerating, the absolute worst crying I have ever seen on film. This is the kind of fake crying that you’re likely to see on the playground; I expect better from a gosh-darn movie. And Sachs decides to actually end the movie on a scene with Tahan instead of, oh, I don’t know, the MAIN CHARACTERS, ie. The ONLY ONES I GIVE A CRAP ABOUT! The heck?! Oh, did I mention that the main conflict of the film is resolved when Alfred Molina just happens to sit down at a party next to a guy who just happens to have exactly what Molina needs in order to fix ALL THE PROBLEMS IN THE MOVIE. The guy literally says, “Well, interestingly, I just happen to have in my pocket . . .” Oh, and this guy, he’s an ARCHAEOLOGIST. Yeah, **** you too, movie.
All of this is really too bad; Molina and Lithgow both give really strong, very minimal performances. When they’re together, they have real chemistry and make you really believe in the history of their shared lives together. Unfortunately, the mechanic of the story keeps them apart for fully three-quarters of the movie and neither of them can be particularly compelling in their separate story threads, surrounded as they are by pretty rotten actors. There’s a late scene in the film when the two, reunited at last, share a drink at a bar; it’s sharply written, sweet, funny and really charming and melancholy. It’s a scene so good that it just made me even angrier at the rest of the movie. Yeah, there’s a great, great movie in here, but this certainly isn’t it. This is two really fine central performances struggling against an absolute tidal wave of crap: crap script, crap direction, crap performances from everyone else. What a travesty. This is a movie that I strongly recommended against seeing. 1 ½ stars.
tl;dr – Lithgow and Molina are reserved and wonderful in this quiet drama, but the script is contrived and loaded with horrible dialogue and the supporting cast is full of genuinely dreadful performances. 1 ½ stars.
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