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Man in the Orange Jacket, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Packs a lot into a short running time and few words."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Why, Fantasia (and other) programmers, do you insist on scheduling nearly-wordless movies for 10pm (or later)? I get that they're often enough of an acquired taste to keep out of prime time, but it can be rough on those of us already coming down after 8+ hours of movies.

Few movies work with this sort of exhaustion better than The Man in the Orange Jacket, though. It's a simple enough premise - man (Maxim Lazarev) kills rich guy (Aris Rozentals) who kind of has it coming, and slides into his house/life. Of course he soon finds that either he has a copycat/guy with the same idea coming after him or he's starting to crack - or both! At a mere 70 minutes, the lack of conventional action and fairly sparse plot is not going to tax the tired viewer much, and sometimes the hallucinatory bits work even better in that state of mind.

Writer/director Aik Karapetian moves everything forward at a relaxed but steady pace but also tends to circle around in surreal loops, and it's a combination that works well, keeping the viewer aware of how this man's mind can't help but return to the thing he's done but not keeping the story wholly internal. Karapetian wastes no time getting to the main events but still manages to set the stage cleanly, with a few lines of dialog plus the contrast between the victim's nice house and just-closed business delivering all the information one needs, along with the spark of rage needed to kick start what is sometimes a quiet, methodical sort of thriller.

It's a neat, smart movie beyond that. There's something that's not quite comedy but still kind of off about the killer trying to insert himself into the rich man's life - he doesn't know how to eat the fancy soup or how to handle the distractions in the house meant for idleness. What is this guy going to do with a grand piano? And as much as the film sheds no tears over the rich old man with the pretty young wife, there's also something to it about how that sort of wealth is isolating. There's almost a classist element to the man's breakdown, a belief that even if he's able to earn or take the good life, it's not for the likes of him. The equally interesting flip side of the idea is how little the oligarch he kills seems to matter; though there's mention made of an upcoming vacation that perhaps explains why the title character is able to get away with murder except in his own mind, that the world moves on without the man who casually eliminated the jobs of so many in this Latvian town highlights the larger corrupt system. It's a film well worth unpacking.

The cast is small enough for most, if not all, of the speaking roster to fit on one screen of the main titles without using particularly small type, and there's not a bad performance among them, though none have a lot of lines. Maxim Lazarev has sizable chunks of the movie to himself, and he is admirably restrained without it being numbing. He gets both sides of the ruthlessness required - being ferocious enough to kill and panicked at the thought of losing what he has taken - while still making this guy look kind of pathetic in his stolen life. Aris Rozentals isn't around for long, but establishes his character as necessarily craven without being such a carcinogen monster that there is no guilt to be found in his death. And give a hand to Anita Aizupe, who as the rich man's wife gets to be the centerpiece of the film's most conventional slasher-movie sequence and sells the hell out of it.

Like I said up top, I saw this at the end of a pretty long weekend of movies, and and saying that some movies are particularly well-suited to a frazzled brain may be a bit of self-defense. But, you know, some movies just get forgotten under those circumstances; this one I want to see again because for as much as I did it the first time, I think it merits an even closer look.

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originally posted: 08/28/14 09:54:46
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 London Film Festival For more in the 2014 London Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Fantastic Fest For more in the 2014 Fantastic Fest series, click here.

User Comments

9/04/14 amy tolley i liked this movie 4 stars
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Directed by
  Aik Karapetian

Written by
  Aik Karapetian

  Anta Aizupe
  Maxim Lazarev
  Aris Rozentals

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