A coming-of-age comedy that follows D. Ray Morton, a small-town have-not who has grown up to be a conspicuous, big-city socialite. But after a human resource audit reveals an overstated educ... Read allA coming-of-age comedy that follows D. Ray Morton, a small-town have-not who has grown up to be a conspicuous, big-city socialite. But after a human resource audit reveals an overstated educational background, Ray loses his job, his gaudy paycheck, and in turn, his identity. In a... Read allA coming-of-age comedy that follows D. Ray Morton, a small-town have-not who has grown up to be a conspicuous, big-city socialite. But after a human resource audit reveals an overstated educational background, Ray loses his job, his gaudy paycheck, and in turn, his identity. In an attempt to salvage his career and self-worth, Ray returns home to feebly check the boxes... Read all
Eventually I shut up, and it wasn't because my date threatened to dump lemonade on my head. It was because after 20 minutes the main character leaves Atlanta, and that's the last we see of it. I was initially very bummed, especially when his next destination was some obscure coal town in central PA called Danville. But then a funny thing happened. The same nostalgic attachment I felt for the Atlanta scenes began to infect me in the Danville scenes, a town I've never visited and probably never will. What I'm saying is that the filmmakers did an excellent job of creating a very personal, sentimental vibe that everyone can enjoy, and I believe that's what carries this film.
About the title of my review "Catcher in the Rye for 30somethings", I'm referring to the way J.D. Salinger's iconic book spoke to so many teens & 20somethings even though the setting (upper class rich kid in New York City of the 1950s) couldn't possibly describe more than 0.01% of the readers. Salinger did this by taking us into the mind of the main character, using his surroundings as almost a fantasy landscape. Regardless of where he was and what he was doing, it was the main character's rhetorical situation and behavior that snared us. This was the same vibe I got with "Left/Right", a similar 3-days-in-the-life type of story which begins with our hero getting forced out of his cushy life. The rest of the story is one of self-discovery as he makes a meandering pilgrimage back to the only place he has left: the home where he grew up.
Here the main character is Daniel Ray Morton (played by writer/co-director Matthew Wolfe who evidently wrote this as an autobiographical piece, considering that he was born in Danville, PA and lived his professional years in Atlanta). Like Catcher in the Rye's Holden Cauffield, our hero Daniel (who is constantly telling people to call him Ray though they never do haha) has no real grip of life, but he does an admirable job of convincing himself he's in control. What follows is a series of humorous encounters with odd characters in his home town.
A bit about the humor... it's not really laugh-out-loud funny, but there are some bizarrely comical situations that you can't help but chuckle at. I loved the scene where the pretentious douchebag classmate is intent on proving that Daniel's Rolex is fake, to the point that he pulls out a knife and starts hacking at it to prove the face isn't real crystal. Another funny scene is when Daniel encounters the loser slob who married his (Daniel's) high school sweetheart and is forced to endure a hilariously awkward conversation. But one of my favorite scenes, with some great scriptwriting, is the scene depicted on the DVD cover where Daniel is sitting on a toy train discussing life with his brother. There are some classic lines and great acting by both Matthew Wolfe and the brother who is played by his real life brother Todd Wolfe, also co-director of this film.
By the end of the movie, you realize that "Left Right" is a very personal story, and the filmmakers did an excellent job of conveying that intimate small-town vibe to the audience. Does Daniel ever find himself? You'll have to watch the movie and find out. One way or another, it's a fun ride.
Who says a coming-of-age film has to be about teenagers? As we saw in the excellent "About Schmidt" (2002) with Jack Nicholson, even retirees can try to find themselves. "Left Right" fills the slot for the 30-40 crowd of young professionals who experience a career crisis. But more than that, it's a nice universal story of someone trying to figure out what's important in life. Other quiet, soul-searching, adult coming-of-age-films I would compare this to include "This Is Martin Bonner" (2013) and the excellent films of Wim Wenders "Don't Come Knocking" (2005) and "Paris, Texas" (1984).
- Aug 11, 2014