|Index||2 reviews in total|
WEAKNESS is a strange little film that in many ways describes the
flailing sense of isolation so many people are feeling in contemporary
society. While it tells a well constructed story it simultaneously
pulls up the window shades on the realities of how far too many people
have lost the positive direction of creating meaningful relationships.
Michael Melamedoff is a young newcomer and this is his first
full-length film - a work he both wrote and directed - and he gives
evidence of a thinking man who has concerns about how we all function
in this chaotic world.
High school English teacher Joshua Polansky (Bobby Cannavale, in an exceptionally fine performance) is a sweet guy whose pupils like him: outside the classroom his world is in shambles. He is married to the free-spirited Elizabeth (June Diane Raphael) whose hobby is making ceramic phalluses to sell at the local flea market and wants to try 'swinging' with another couple; his mother Lenore (Phyllis Somerville) is dying (and does die) from cancer leaving Joshua to care for his severely autistic, hospitalized brother Pete (Keith Nobbs) whose violent behavior results in his being removed from care; his best friend and fellow teacher in Health Education Bart (Josh Charles) attempts to use Joshua's appeal to women by competing for the attention of another fellow English teacher Katherine (Lily Rabe); after Lenore's death Joshua and his sensually frustrated wife Elizabeth must provide a home for Pete who usurps all of Joshua's time with baseball and games; Lenore's home must be fixed up and in trying to do so Joshua falls off the roof and injures his leg and Elizabeth must find a repairman to work the empty house. Joshua stays home on summer break, Elizabeth hires the handsome Alejandro (Daniel Sunjata) to repair Lenore's house - and begins an affair. The emotionally distraught Joshua falls in with a beautiful just-graduated pupil Danielle (Danielle Panabaker) and fears the consequences of having a relationship with a girl so young despite the fact that Elizabeth has now asked for a divorce. Events tumble in Joshua's train wreck of a life and how he confronts all of the endless issues that he faces finds him just plowing through life with a kind of nonchalance, just assuming that things will begin to improve without his urging.
That all of this works is due to the quality of writing and directing from Melamedoff and from consistently excellent performances not only form the brilliant Cannavale, but from everyone in the well-selected cast. The fact that we, the audience, can hang in there with Joshua as he outlines many of the failings of contemporary interpersonal relationships is a tribute to all involved in this fine little film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie IS weak. And then some. It's one thing to portray a flawed protagonist; it's quite another to bombard viewers with 1 1/2 hours of a totally unlikeable protagonist. And that's exactly what Melamedoff has done here. Joshua is weak, passive-aggressive, incompetent, selfish, and childish. And if that isn't bad/weak enough, EVERY SINGLE OTHER CHARACTER is loathsome as well. The wife, girlfriend, best friend -- EVERYONE in this train wreck of a movie is unlikeable, at best. The mother commits suicide, the brother is autistic, the wife is a heartless shallow fraud, the best friend is a jerk, the repairman is an a-hole, the fellow English teacher is an air heard, and the 18 year old girlfriend is clueless. NOTHING about this movie is enjoyable. It's an hour and a half of one awkward, uncomfortable moment after another. And what is the viewer treated to at the end of all of this misery? MORE ambivalence and awkwardness as the main character STILL can't quite figure out what he wants. And unlike the reviewer who stated that it "all works" because of the "quality of writing and directing", I couldn't disagree more. It DOESN'T work because the writing and directing is substandard. And so is the end result. I could think of a lot better ways to spend an hour and a half than watching "Weakness". A LOT of better ways.
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