Saturday, 6 September 2014

REVIEW - LIFE OF CRIME (DANIEL SCHECHTER)


Whereas Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown was sharp and tightly-wound, a niftily constructed web of stupidity around its calm core in Pam Grier's character, Daniel Schechter's Life of Crime is loose and laidback. That's fine, in principle, but the schematics that define Elmore Leonard's seemingly simple plot developments, those which actually enhance its wicked pulpiness, get lost in the fog that settles over this film in its inertia. A bit more pep in Schechter's treatment of the story, while not betraying the nonchalance of its characters, might have better befitted the clarity that Leonard offers, in more diligently presenting the details that explain these individuals' actions and motivations. Yet Schechter has a solid grasp of a certain tonal lightness that lends Life of Crime a most affable quality, if it's consistently uninspired, stylistically. The film is a low-key little jaunt through the late 1970s, in chilly Detroit and tropical Bahamas, the period designs just the right side of cute. There's a cheeriness to the film, which perhaps comes from the fact that these actors are so perfectly cast that their comfort practically radiates from the screen. None of them are even trying very hard, alas, which doesn't help enliven Life of Crime. Indeed, the whole film feels rather thrown together, with good intentions and a fair deal of talent, yet put to distinctly basic uses. Snappy comedy and even fundamental plot points are lost amid a general insouciance that somewhat spoils its undeniable worth in many respects, and renders it fairly forgettable. Leonard's literary warm-up to Jackie Brown is a cinematic cool-down.