"I don't wanna... I don't think sooo... I don't wanna..."
A bitter-sweet experience for any but the die-hard Hartley fans.Robert Burke is Bill, a career criminal and general ass. William Sage is Dennis, a college drop-out and little else. Their father, an old time baseball star who has been on the run for decades after an activist bombing he's been accused of, is missing.
Bill and Dennis hop a bike and go a-hunting for the father they never knew. Along the way they meet a good woman, a Romanian epileptic, a French-speaking guitar-playing mechanic and a fresh-out-of-jail psychopath... but where's dad?
It takes a certain sensibility to appreciate Hartley's work. His humor doesn't come with a sign saying "laugh now", it's much more underhanded, even accidental. His characters are very much images of the man himself. Geeky, pensive, soft-spoken and a little too thoughtful for their own good.
So does it, and more importantly does this movie, make for pleasant watching? Yeah. You could do a lot worse. But so far as Hartley films go, this isn't, in my opinion, his best work. Henry Fool will always be the work on which he's now judged. His opus, his epic, the film he's been working up to.
But Simple Men, on it's own, is an at times intriguing, at times slow, at times very cool piece of work. It's very European in feel, as all Hal's pieces are, and a little philosophical in intent. The story does lose it's way at times. There's a few too many "out of nowhere" characters and a few too many "that's a coincidence" plot twists to be a five star effort, or even a four, but the good outweighs the bad often enough to be able to make this a positive viewing experience.If you're a Hal fan, go see it. If not, next.