Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Longest Week: Movie Review

A romantic comedy that falls short of its aspirations.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” A quote by Charles Dickens seems like the best way to open The Longest Week review. A movie that is both the best and the worst that it can offer at the exact same time. A romantic comedy so desperate to be better than your typical romantic comedy that it gets bogged down by its lofty and literary aspirations. 2014

Directed by: Peter Glanz

Screenplay by: Peter Glanz

Starring: Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde

Jason Bateman stars as Conrad Valmont a bachelor born into high society and lives for culture and money and women who like culture and money. He is narcissistic, lazy, self-involved, self-important and a completely useless member of society. Suddenly his parents break up and leave Conrad penniless. So Conrad is forced into the regular world.

The set-up for the obvious clash of cultures is here and ripe for comedy. But the film didn't really go that direction. Instead Conrad moves in with his almost-as-rich, not-quite-as-lazy best friend Dylan (Billy Crudup) who lives a very similar lifestyle to that which Conrad is accustomed. The same type of high-culture social gatherings that people in Conrad and Dylan's world attend, but the people watching the movie, do not. That was the movie's first mistake. After introducing Conrad as an aloof, adolescent, unrelatable, sympathy-less loser, we (as the audience) still aren't given any connection to him.

The comedy and the romantic comedy aspects come through when Conrad falls for Dylan's not-quite-a-girlfriend Beatrice (Olivia Wilde). They don't date, they just phone each other and pre-arrange times and places where they'll both be and then meet up there. The film has that very idiosyncratic humour that can be hard to get used to.

However, it doesn't take too many lines like that before the inspirations for the film become clear. It has the same style of narration and structure as found in Wes Anderson films, and the genre and constant use of “pseudo-intellectual” as an insult owe heavily to Woody Allen. Not bad filmmakers to emulate but it does fall short of their story-telling efforts.

But once you get that out of the way, Conrad becomes very funny. His intellect and well-read nature come through with some brilliant references and it becomes clear why Conrad was created the way he was. The film is enjoyable as a smart-alecky attack on Conrad and the ideals of high-society. But that's not the film that The Longest Week was supposed to be. It's not a cute romantic comedy with likable characters. It thrives off of its unlikability which is just too big of a hurdle for a freshman filmmaker.