This sees Will Ferrell in straight mode as opposed to comedic. Well, straightish since there is a lot of comedic value to Everything Must Go. But that’s in a brilliantly-indie fashion.
Nick Halsey loses his job and his wife in the same day. He comes home to find himself locked out of the house with everything he owns laid out on his front lawn. He has a history of alcohol problems and the day’s events prompt him to fall off the wagon. He proceeds to camp out on said lawn, getting steadily drunk and having a yard sale of all his conveniently-dumped stuff.
Based on the Raymond Carver short story, Why Don’t You Dance, this is appealingly un-obvious subject matter for a movie. Director Dan Rush shows a light touch. He doesn’t hammer home any message and is not judgemental of Nick’s behaviour. He does show the consequences of that way of life but not in a heavy-handed way. Things get dark when it emerges the reason for Nick’s firing is because of an unexplained “incident” with a female colleague, which occurred during one of his blackouts. No, all is not sweetness and light in indieland. The mild-mannered Nick certainly has a ticking time bomb quality about him. He befriends Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), a neglected kid from the neighbourhood to whom he passes on some of his business acumen. This odd couple relationship, for example, is a fun one but handled without any cutsieness.
Rebecca Hall gives yet another effective (American) performance. She displays undeniable allure as his pregnant neighbour deserted by her husband. Will Ferrell exudes pathos in a quiet, restrained performance. He also gives good drunk and not in a slurring, clichéd way.
The film is ultimately a little unfulfilling but it is distinctly original and has an endearing sweetness. It’s a good script (from the director also) and a strong debut. Sadly it didn’t fare too well at the box office – even with comedy behemoth Ferrell at its forefront. So sadly, I’m not sure what the future holds for Mr Rush.