Thursday, 2 July 2015

REVIEW - MANGLEHORN (DAVID GORDON GREEN)


On one hand, it makes creative sense for David Gordon Green to direct a script by a different writer - Green's unique perspective on another's version of reality, a new interpretation of life as we thought we knew it, as that writer thought they knew it! On the other hand, it can result in the kind of creative dissonance that is brought about in Manglehorn, a dreary little small-town tale jazzed up by all the wrong techniques by a director who adamantly refuses to know better. One can admire Green's audacity, and indulge in the script's simple charms, but the curious combination of the two, of which Green seems so greatly enamoured, makes the film uneasy to watch. In an abstruse yet effective method of overlapping, Green suggests an atmosphere of unreliability and inertia around his central character, Al Pacino's titular locksmith, whose idiosyncrasies only intensify as his ever-accumulating memories swamp his mind. This story of a life lived, for us, in recollection, is more affecting the more muddled it is - clarity hits Manglehorn the man and Manglehorn the movie both like a slap in the face, and a most unwelcome one too. The narrative obfuscation is abused though, and extended into an overall (yet sporadic) stylistic obfuscation that feels like Green engaging with mannerisms and ideas that overwhelm the film with their ill-judged artsiness (significant blame must also be laid at the feet of the film's composers, Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo). It's rather a shame that the mundane screenplay by Paul Logan, which treads that dreadfully familiar route of the male-centric ego deconstruction movie, emerges as the most tolerable element of this film. Its easygoing pleasures are far more digestible, and also provide Holly Hunter with a chance to prove again just how talented she is, entirely enlivening a conventional character with a beautifully nuanced performance.