Saturday, 9 July 2011

Henry’s Crime

**
It looked good on paper: a gently comedic caper led by a likeable cast and headed by a talented director. The film is well-intentioned but let down by a duff script. There are moments nearing sweet, tender, and poignant but they don’t quite reach. Again, it’s nearly-but-not-quite funny. The characterisation is paper-thin and clichés abound. It has only just come to my attention that it was written by Sacha Gervaisi, who scripted The Terminal. I notice they didn’t put that on the DVD.

Henry (Keanu Reeves) unwittingly becomes part of a bungled bank job and goes to jail. On his release he plans to rob the same bank with his cellmate (James Caan) - his logic being he has already served the time for the crime. To do this, and without giving too much away, he needs to perform in The Cherry Orchard in a theatre nearby alongside his girlfriend Julie (Vera Farmiga).

Although I know a lot of people do, I don’t have a problem with Keanu. From Ted Logan to Jack Traven to Neo, I’ve always liked him on screen (NB: when the casting has been right). Here it’s not so right and he flounders in the role. Caan and Farmiga do the best they can with the material.

We can’t blame everything on the script. Director Malcolm Venville should have done something better with it. It is his job to make the script, just as with every other component part of the film, work. Some things that occur are so hokey it’s embarrassing. For example, the theatre company run rehearsals with the entire cast in full costume weeks before opening night. In cinematic terms, the heist doesn’t quite work. And that’s without being too nerdy about it. There are some glaring logistical errors I can’t imagine anyone will miss. Venville bathes the film in heavy grades of blues and green. This is fine for a car advert but here it does nothing but detract from the intentionally-glum locale of Buffalo, NY.

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