the strange story of two strange people, Wallace Avery (Colin Firth) and
Michaela “Mike” Fitzgerald (Emily Blunt). Wallace is dissatisfied with
approaching middle-age life, gets a new identity, fakes suicide, and
abandons his life which includes his young son from whom he is
estranged. He meets Mike who is also running away from her old life.
Both are dysfunctional, to say the least.
directed by Dante Ariola, who is making his feature film debut after a
successful career as an award-winning director of commercials. He proves
his talent here as this could have been a slow, draggy, disaster. On the
contrary, while it is talky and strange it certainly holds your
screenplay by Becky Johnston was written 20 years ago with Nick Nolte in
mind as Arthur. Twenty years later Ariola says that Firth was the only
person he had in mind as Arthur. Because Arthur and Mike travel around
in a car and invade people’s homes for casual sex, Ariola directed it
like a road movie along the lines of Five Easy Pieces (1970), and
that’s the way Johnston wrote it. Both Ariola and Johnston admit to
being strongly influenced by the pacing of the movies of the ‘70s.
for movies, this was shot chronologically. Firth and Blunt didn’t know
each other, so Ariola started shooting with little rehearsal so that
they could get to know one another personally as they were playing
characters who are getting to know one another onscreen. As a result,
the familiarity that they eventually develop on screen is even more
realistic and does not arise just from “acting.”
one main criticism of this film. There is a scene in which Arthur chokes
on a piece of food. The way Ariola directs it is not the way
life-threatening choking occurs. When someone is really choking he can
make no noise whatsoever, which is why people often die before someone
can help them. In this scene, however, Arthur is making noise is gagging
and gasping for air. This is not factual or realistic. It’s a shame that
this was not presented realistically because approximately 3000 adults
die each year choking on food. Ariola had an opportunity to present real
food choking as it actually occurs and do a service to mankind through a
major motion picture.
Although the script predates it by decades, the movie follows the road
started by “Silver Linings Playbook” in that it deals in depth with a
love affair by two people with mental illness. Strange as the movie is,
Ariola clearly has mastered pace, and it is the pace of the film that
makes it as watchable and interesting as it is. It goes without saying
that Firth and Blunt give wonderful performances. When have they not?
This passed the watch test with flying colors.