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Overall Rating
3.57

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Worth A Look85.71%
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Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 14.29%

1 review, 1 rating


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Manglehorn
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by Jay Seaver

"An unusually - and interestingly - nuanced part for Pacino."
4 stars

SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2015: David Gordon Green seems to make movies in spurts-first some noteworthy independent dramas, then some crude studio comedies. Now, a year after doing "Joe" and reminding audiences that, yeah, Nicholas Cage can act a little when he decides to apply himself, Green has teamed up with another actor who does not always choose roles that match his talent level, Al Pacino. The results are not bad at all, although it can at times be hard to embrace them.

Pacino plays the Manglehorn of the title, A.J., a locksmith in a small Texas town. Though not shy about offering his opinion, he is fairly private, spending most of his time at home with his ailing cat. He's fond enough of a certain teller at the bank that the line knows to go around him so that he can talk to Dawn (Holly Hunter), although the true love of his life left him forty years ago, and as the daily letters returned to sender and shrine in his house indicate, he's not close to being over it.

Manglehorn is a character who could really play to Pacino's worst habits, having a tendency to go from charming to blustering rage without necessarily having a whole lot of space in between. Fortunately, he and the filmmakers realize that he doesn't have to charm the audience here, and can instead play up the lower-key ways that someone can be anti-social or consumed by an obsession. Pacino perfectly zeroes in on the tone that will push the person he's talking to away even while A.J. is outwardly trying to be friendly, and it's a performance that makes the audience just put off enough that when Managlehorn shows us his worst, it's not a betrayal but it's still fairly shocking.

Tellingly, it's not even the moment when he turns violent, but when he's at his most socially oblivious. All of his interactions seem to come down to how much of a threat the other person is to his long-gone and idealized romance, which is why his scenes with his granddaughter (or his cat) can be so genuinely charming while other moments can change quickly when he realizes where something might lead. It makes the bits with his son and another man about the same age more interesting on reflection - he's able to feel an easier rapport with someone who is more or less a stranger than the man who represents what happened instead.

It makes everyone else in the movie very much a supporting actor, there to give Pacino someone to interact with because he can't quite get everything across in the scenes where he's by himself. They're a good group, especially Holly Hunter, who implies an odd story for Dawn - she is strangely alone for such a positive, friendly person - and carves out a corner of the film of her own.

They do this in the middle of what seems like a classic David Gordon Green environment: There's not a whole lot going on in this town, and it gives Green and writer Paul Logan time to observe the everyday details, from the mechanics of Manglehorn's trade to the surgery performed on his cat. It's not an isolated any-place where the outside world doesn't seem to exist, but it does have some wonderfully surreal corners and moments of its own. Green's regular cinematographer, Tim Orr, shoots, and it is reliably beautiful to look at.

It's not the best film either Green or Pacino has done - though rich in detail, it is sometimes a little too simple in terms of the larger story, and almost unsure whether to finish big or small. It's great to see this sort of work from Al Pacino though, and I hope Green has other revivals on tap.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=27614&reviewer=371
originally posted: 05/19/15 12:49:46
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Venice Film Festival For more in the 2014 Venice Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Nashville Film Festival For more in the 2015 Nashville Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Independent Film Festival Boston For more in the 2015 Independent Film Festival Boston series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/26/15 Bruce Bethany Pacino's character in Donny Brasco, Lefty, has the best comment "FUHGEDDABOUDIT! 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  19-Jun-2015 (PG-13)
  DVD: 06-Oct-2015

UK
  07-Aug-2015

Australia
  19-Jun-2015
  DVD: 06-Oct-2015




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