Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Brass Teapot: Movie Review


Takes a dark comedy premise and makes it funny only and light on discernment.
The Brass Teapot tells the story of a young married couple Alice (Juno Temple) and John (Michael Angarano). They’re educated but under-employed; they have friends but no money or safety net. After brazenly stealing a teapot from a strange antiques store, Alice discovers that the teapot produces money whenever they hurt themselves. The perfect premise for a dark comedy. Giving us humour while it pushes Alice and John and the audience towards the sharp edges of humanity. 2012

Directed by: Ramaa Mosley

Screenplay by: Tim Macy and Ramaa Mosley

Starring: Juno Temple and Michael Angarano

Michael Angarano and Juno Temple in THE BRASS TEAPOT,
a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
It is funny, but not very dark. They gave the whole film a silly tone where Alice has fun pretty much the whole way through and John gets exasperated with how far she’ll go. The film explores the theme of money. How much money is enough? Will you know it when you have it? What will you do for more money? And does it change who you are? Decent questions for sure - especially as the magical teapot changes John and Alice for the worse - but it doesn't attempt to answer the questions with any interesting introspection. In one smart decision, John and Alice weren't particularly good people to begin with; not evil, but they're no saints. It does keep the audience at a slight distance since most people view themselves as better than that, but it does give the protagonists one interesting layer.

Luckily the film keeps up a good pace. Whenever you see the basis of the plot, a little twist is introduced to suggest a different force is controlling the direction of the story. Each twist has the same structure: Things are good, then they overcome an obstacle and then things are no longer working out as they want. It’s good that they move swiftly on with some silly humour otherwise it would have been more repetitive than it already is. But a dull structure for such an absurd and darkly comedic tale isn't the right choice.

The dark elements which the story is ripe for seem to be apparent in Alice. She likes wearing only her bra and underwear giving the film a sexual vibe and making it more appropriate for slightly mature audiences. Apparently they made the film for people who are desperate to see Juno Temple in her underwear. I wouldn't call that a particularly discerning audience to cater a movie to.

The problem with the The Brass Teapot is that it's silly and funny and that's it. It presents some introspective ideas but keeps the focus on the plot rather than answering their questions or probing deeper. It doesn’t take it as dark or thoughtful as most adults would prefer but then again John and Alice are not adults.