Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Lookout

There’s a little movie I saw awhile back that impressed the heck out of me called The Lookout. I’d been in the mood to watch it again for a few months now and I’d wanted to buy it instead of Netflix it, and yet for some reason I couldn’t find a single store that carried it. This is a travesty. I ended up having to track it down at a specialty DVD store, the kind where if they don’t sell it then it doesn’t exist. Thank God they had it, but I think it’s a travesty that stores like Target & Best Buy don’t seem to carry it.

I digress. What impressed me the most about The Lookout is the fact that even though it’s a heist movie that’s centered around a man with a brain injury, the film is never cheap, clichéd and comes off 100% authentic. That is a beautiful thing.

The main character is Chris Pratt, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I found an interview while I was looking for the film where Gordon-Levitt stated that part of what he loved so much about The Lookout and playing Chris is that in the end Chris doesn’t suddenly get better because you know, somewhere along the line some exec had the brilliant idea that as part of a nice happy ending Chris sound be healthy again, and that Gordon-Levitt loved that the film doesn’t do that because that would have been disrespectful to anyone suffering from a brain injury. I have to say that I agree.

Part of what makes the film feel so authentic is that Chris struggles. One day it may be hard for him to pick up a beer bottle without shaking, or he may forget where the can opener is kept, or he has sudden mood swings – and that doesn’t go away, even when he has to become the hero of the piece. The entire film Chris has to struggle with his injury, his past and how it all affects his present and future. There is never a moment where everything just gels and Chris carries on a quasi-normal existence.

As fantastic as Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in the role of Chris, it would be a crime not to mention that he is perfectly matched by Jeff Daniels in the role of Lewis – his blind roommate who helps him cope with life. To say Lewis is the comic-relief in this film would be to cheapen his performance or character, but Lewis is the one that provides many grins and laughs for the audience through the film. Lewis is in the place with his disability that Chris can’t be in yet, and Lewis’s ability to carry on with the lightness of life next to the darkness is a perfect complement to the still fresh way Chris is dealing with his disability. Daniels plays the character as if being a blind hippy is a natural act for him and it makes me wish he got more roles like this.

The single reason I think I’ve fought so hard to find this film is not my obsession with the acting work of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but Scott Frank. Frank has written some of my most loved films of the past decade and his directorial debut is a perfect match to his body of work. It’s tense, funny, original, and complex yet for the first time I’ve gotten to see the world as Frank sees it instead of through the filter of another director.

Chris Pratt: I started skating again. I'm not as good as I used to be, but I'm okay. What happened that night along Route 24 is a part of me now. I just hope that one day Kelly will be ready to see me again and I can finally tell her what I've only been able to say in my dreams. Until then, all I can do is wake up, take a shower, with soap, and try to forgive myself. If I can do that, then maybe others will forgive me too. I don't know if that will happen, but I guess I'll just have to work backwards from there.

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