Friday, June 26, 2015

[Review] Manglehorn

After David Gordon Green's big Hollywood run, he returned to his indie roots with the decent Prince Avalanche and the very good Joe. Then when word broke that his next project would involve Al Pacino, it was an exciting prospect for both of them. And while Pacino is great in Manglehorn, the film can't help but feel like a disappointment.

Manglehorn is a lonely Lock & Key store owner, despite all the people he meets day-to-day. During the writing of an eloquent letter, we learn that he's desperately missing someone named Clara, who we assume might be an ex-lover. Manglehorn also has a huge compassion for pets, especially his cat Fanny, so he becomes fairly likable right away.

It's a while before we know where this is going, and it turns out that there really isn't much of a plot. It settles into character study mode, but luckily the character is interesting, and Pacino has the charisma to carry it (it's also adorable to see him interact with a cat). However, the lack of aim still is a disadvantage as it just kind of drifts along, feeling longer than it actually is.

An admirable thing about the film is that it mostly abandons all-out bleakness, especially in a film with a character that could've potentially been an overdose of cynicism. It's not too proud to be sentimental & heartfelt, and this comes as a refreshing breath in this genre. The pretty and optimistic Explosions In The Sky-composed soundtrack lends to the heart. And as expected, Green stages the shots nicely with alluring shades of Autumn sunset colors.

This is one of Al Pacino's best later career performances. It's low-key yet still significantly emotional, proving that sometimes less can be more. If only there was more of a story to go along with it.


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