|Index||5 reviews in total|
Expectations are everything when watching a film and this well-acted
character study suffers some from a title that makes fans of typical
detective stories, and Pulp Fiction, expect something with more action.
But give it a chance. Mo Collins, one of the great comic television
actors, is capable of far more than big vapid eyes and respiratory tics
in a Mad-TV sketch. And Patrick Coyle, the writer and director, shines
equally as male lead, Jack, with a look somewhere between Robert Culp
and William H. Macy and a distinctive voice perfectly paired to the
noir style with its voice-over segments.
Over time the film's strong writing and acting overcome one's early disappointment that this isn't going to be a typical thriller, but a relationship story painted in noir tones. Once one lets go of expectations and follows the story Coyle has to tell, there is ample entertainment, empathy and fuel for thought to be derived from this tale of a couple's fight to overcome the loneliness togetherness has come to mean for them. It's well directed too, with clever shots and subtle juxtapositions that relieve tensions the dialogue creates and make the watching interesting, even though it's basically a filmed play.
Especially fun for Twin Cities residents are the many familiar streets and buildings, from the old Koscielski's gun shop, with its big smiley face and bullet entry sign, to the classic Parkway Theater and seedy parts of the warehouse district, which have been edited together to suggest a whole city block of adult entertainment (none of whose activities appear on screen).
People who enjoy good acting and films about relationships will appreciate Detective Fiction. It's a well wrought film, better than the average video store offering. Collins and Coyle are real talents and movie fans would benefit from more film work by both.
What happens when traditional "noir" enters the new millennium? Answer:
this stylish but essentially empty account of a mildly unhappy, mildly
neurotic married couple trying to find their way out of contemporary ennui.
One scene dissolves painlessly into another as we wait to see whether any of
the threads implying conflict lead to catharsis, as on and on it drifts. I
kept thinking Walter Mitty as Sam Spade.
If the viewer for one reason or another finds any of the characters in this seemingly endless portrayal interesting, there may be a redeeming element to the process of watching it through to the end. I found no such reason.
Definitely an example of style over substance.
I saw this movie when it showed on The Sundance Channel. I found it to be an incredibly emotionally intense movie from the beginning. Granted the ending isn't what I expected, but the rest of the movie leading up to it more than makes up for that fact. Coyle possesses great writing and directing skills but at times his acting skills fall flat and tend to make for uncomfortable watching. Collins on the other hand, has shown that she is not just an incredibly talented comedienne, but is equally just as talented in the Dramatic genre. Although there were at least 2 parts in my opinion where Collins was a bit forceful in her delivery in that it didn't fit the mood of the moment, her performance in the rest of the movie was absolutely brilliant.
Patrick Coyle's compelling debut screenplay, which he vividly brings to life as both director and actor, takes a dramatic, and far more challenging turn away from the traditional "descent into alcoholic madness" so many have explored, from Malcolm Lowry's classic "Under the Volcano," Hemingway's detailed stories of a lost generation, Kerouac's "On the Road" and and a bouquet of movies from the early "Days of Wine and Roses" to the more recent "Sid and Nancy" or "Train Spotting," and instead focuses on what happens after a character pulls out of that long, sad decline and tries to put the piece4s of their shattered lives back together again. Detective Fiction is no pollyanna story, and while there is a redemption, it is hard won echoing the "You can't always get what you want" idea more than the "happily ever after" so common in many films. I found the portrayal of Jennifer and Jack Hannon, husband and wife, riveting as they tried to put their lives back in sync, tried to arrest and reverse the full throttle flight from reality that was their life during Jack's drinking days, and which they have both have so recently, tentatively tried to abandon. "Detective Fiction" moves methodically, and with great integrity through the action, paced to echo the slow unraveling of the character's lives, even though Jack has entered recovery. The stunning conclusion comes when husband and wife finally, haltingly, and perhaps only temporarily meet each other halfway, dramaticized with Jack and Jennifer talking to eachother through a locked door. There is redemption here, and an uplift to the human spirit, but not an easy fix, and despite the lack of budget, the movie is a telling testimony to a writer/director and actor who is sure to do great things in the future. Here is integrity, and it is not to be missed. .
I liked the atmosphere of this movie, the color palette chosen, the setting in Minnesota, the quality of the protagonist's narrative. One of the funniest moments was at the bar, where the protagonist - a recovering alcoholic - gets charged a drink price for a plain coke (I suppose this is inside humor for the AA set). Some say the director lacked a full round of acting skills, and that may be so, but for me this did not affect the movie, since a good portion of it was voice-over narrative from the protagonist. I am surprised at the low voting score - but I understand that those brought up on fast cutting and action will find this movie meandering and boring.
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