SXSW Day 1: Friday Night

SXSW Day 1: Friday Night

I started my festival experience with The Lookout - directed by Scott Frank and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Jeff Daniels. JGL is Chris Pratt, a high school hockey star whose world is turned upside down. While out joy riding to see fireflies without headlights, he crashes into a stalled combine, killing two of his friends and maiming the third. He does not walk away without his own life altering injuries though. He suffers from brain injuries and can't remember to do life's basic tasks - like showering with soap or taking his keys out of the ignition before leaving and locking the car. (Think Memento with less of the manic energy.) After years and a lot of therapy, he is rooming with Lewis Canfield (Jeff Daniels), a blind man he met in a life skills class. Despite being very different people, they appear to be very close and have dreams of opening a diner together. All this is disrupted by an old school alum, Gary (Matthew Goode). He offers Chris an exciting opportunity in the form of robbing the bank that Chris cleans after hours. With some slight struggling, Chris finally agrees to help, but soon regrets it.

One thing I tend to notice about movies fairly quickly, is if it's quiet or not. I really appreciate when filmmakers do not overuse music & scores to create mood. This movie excelled at that. There was music and/or score, but it was not overbearing, and the movie was allowed to be. JGL is an amazing talent, and this showcases that in an odd way. He seems to struggle with some emotions but only ever so slightly, which is appropriate considering his condition. His is a very nuanced performance, and it makes me look forward to his future films. (I have not yet seen Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin, and I've heard it's very very good.) Jeff Daniels was also very good. Most sighted actors that play blind characters are generally pretty obvious, but his performance allows you to forget that he really can see. I have not yet made up my mind about Matthew Goode. I've seen him in some fluff, and this goes a bit deeper than that, but it still felt lacking. I think he could be better, but we'll just have to wait. Overall, the story was good, the acting was great, but it did still feel like something was lacking. I can't put my finger on what exactly, but it's not enough to prevent people from seeing it. Excellent movie... let's say 7.5 out of 10.

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