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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.35%
Worth A Look86.96%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 8.7%

3 reviews, 5 user ratings

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by Brian McKay

"News Flash: Denis Leary is a pretty damn good dramatic actor"
4 stars

FINAL is a small movie produced by the Independent Film Channel which undoubtedly slipped under most people’s radar. It’s quiet, bleak, Spartan, and slow-moving – but rarely not intriguing. It probably didn’t help from a marketing standpoint that it cast someone known primarily as a ranting “wild man” comedian in a dramatic role, most likely causing the casual viewer to dismiss it out of hand like they did with critically praised but publicly snubbed THE RAZOR’S EDGE with Bill Murray. Well, fuck the casual viewer, because Leary has got some skillz.

Leary plays Bill, a man who wakes up in an institution with little recollection of how he ended up there. He has some vague flashbacks of his father’s death, followed by some drunk driving and a crash, but not much else. His therapist is Anne (Hope Davis), a quiet young woman who wants to help Bill, but also feels drawn to him in an unprofessional manner – despite the fact that Bill is apparently insane. He is convinced that he has woken from a cryogenic slumber of 400 years, that he will be executed by his keepers soon, and that the autumn landscape outside the window of his hospital room is all an elaborate holographic illusion. Obviously, the dude is completely off his rocker – or is he?

The beauty of Final is that for a long time we’re never really sure. Likewise, Ann isn’t sure what to make of Bill. He has a way of turning her questions back on her and getting personal details out of her that any other patient probably wouldn’t. She is attracted to him, and he knows it and reciprocates. But she’s got a job to do – determining whether Bill is capable of cognizant decision making. As his memory returns to him in brief flashes, he struggles with the guilt of not getting to the hospital in time to be with his father before he died, as well as breaking the heart of his fiancée, Sherrie (Marin Hinkle).

As Bill and Anne get to know each other better during their sessions, he begins to idealize her, projecting her into his fantasies and overlapping his memories of Sherrie by replacing her with Anne. Meanwhile, Anne visits her sister Mary (Christina Kirk) between sessions, who is a patient in another wing of the hospital and is slowly dying in an oxygen tent.

There’s a lot going on in Final under the surface, and while saying something like “This film keeps you guessing until the end” has become such a quote-whore’s critical cliché’ – this movie really does keep you guessing. Right up to the end. Though it rarely leaves the confines of the hospital or the surrounding grounds, it also rarely feels claustrophobic. Directed by arthouse crowd favorite Campbell Scott, Final benefits from tight directing and a slow but sure pace. However, Leary and Davis are what really pull it off.

Yes, for the first ten minutes or so you’ll be expecting Denis to go off on one of his typically hilarious ravings – then be pleasantly surprised that he never does. Even when Bill becomes enraged, it is far subdued from his usual ranting shtick. Let’s be honest, there probably isn’t a gold statuette in Leary’s future. He’s primarily a comedian, and a damn good one. For the most part, I hated Natural Born Killers, but the two-minute deleted scene of Leary ranting in top form is worth buying the DVD for alone. The fact that comedy is his known forte’ will probably impede people from taking him seriously as a well rounded-actor, and that’s a shame because he’s got some chops. As for Hope Davis, this pallid and plain-yet-pretty blonde is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses. With her beautiful, expressive eyes and subdued demeanor, she clicks with Leary and manages to convey a sense of real chemistry without once becoming bogged down in any kind of "unrequited love story" cliche's. I guess you could say I’ve had a bit of a crush on her since Next Stop, Wonderland, and her work in Final has bumped it up to the next stage of “puppy love”. Hopefully one day we’ll get to bump uglies.

In final summation, FINAL is a solid character-driven drama with some interesting twists and turns. While vaguely reminiscent of VANILLA SKY, it lacks the pretty big-name stars, the sci-fi trappings, and the cop-out ending – and is all the better for it.

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originally posted: 12/30/02 07:55:35
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User Comments

9/27/09 TreeTiger People should be paid by the hour to watch this atrocious cinematic abomination. 1 stars
2/05/04 Paul L. terrific acting, pacing overcomes gimmicky nature. Everyone should be a Hope Davis fan. 4 stars
10/16/03 Cactus Josh Long scenes that do nothing to develop the story. The twist renders the first 2/3 nonsense. 1 stars
5/03/03 Rafe Williams Leary is impeccable, magnificent. Plot and acting: subdued, yet powerful. 4 stars
2/07/02 Peggy Plant It's only "slow" if you let it be slow. This movie has stayed with me; Leary is awesome! 5 stars
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Directed by
  Campbell Scott

Written by
  Bruce McIntosh

  Denis Leary
  Hope Davis
  Jim Gaffigan
  Helene Cardona
  Earl Hindman
  Guy Mason

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