Few actors convey malice as effectively as Peter Dinklage. With his arched lines and endlessly expressive face, the actor excels in portraying damaged souls with underlying vulnerability. This makes him perfect to star in a new movie scripted by Theodore Melfi.hidden persons) in which he plays a sadistic economics professor who desperately seeks happiness but fails miserably at every turn. American DreamerRecently screened as the opening night film of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, it’s the kind of acerbic black comedy that feels like a throwback to a more cinematically daring 1970s era.
Dinklage plays Philip Lowder, an economics professor at a New England university whose lectures mainly consist of angry screeds about social inequality. Philip is personally involved in the matter, as he only earns $50,000 a year and does not have tenure that ensures job security. In his spare time, he works on a novel but mostly dreams of fancy real estate that he can’t even remotely afford. He attends open house showings of luxury homes hosted by his real estate broker friend Dell (an amusingly droll Matt Dillon), who tolerates Phillip’s presence even as he scares away potential buyers.
The bottom line
A witty dark comedy.
Indulging in a rich fantasy life involving the romantic attentions of two beautiful young women who love him, Philip thinks his dream of owning a luxury home can come true, which seems pretty good. true This includes selling the palatial waterfront mansion “for $5 million or $240,00 live-in.” It is owned by an elderly, childless widow, Astrid Finnelly (Shirley MacLaine), who sells it at a reduced price under the condition that she is allowed to stay in the house for the rest of her life.
Assured by Dell that he won’t have to wait long to get his own since the wheelchair-bound Astrid is “actively dying”, Philip cashes in all his savings and sells all his possessions to raise the needed funds and moves home. Deteriorated servants’ quarters. Much to his chagrin, he soon discovers that Astrid is a spry elder who looks the picture of health rather than being at death’s door. And they actually have several grown children, including Maggie (Kimberly Quinn), a lawyer who makes it clear she has no intention of letting Philip get out of the deal.
The film is loosely based on a real-life episode of the radio show This is American lifehas a peculiarity Harold And Maude A dark-comedy vibe in the depiction of the relationship between Astrid and Philip. It starts out frosty but eventually grows into a warm friendship and love that, after he saves her life on more than one occasion, finds it in his own self-interest to let her die.
Meanwhile, Philippe, who is irresistible to women, finds himself repeatedly getting into bed – first with a 30-year-old graduate student (Michelle Maillet) who threatens to destroy his career after he informs the head of Philippe’s department of a casual affair (Danny Pudi, Community), and then despite his previous feud with Maggie.
Director Paul Decter, making his feature debut, is not entirely successful in navigating the sudden tonal shifts and inconsistencies of the story, in which several characters seem to switch their personalities at the drop of a hat. The film juggles a number of elements, including a subplot involving an easily traumatized private detective (brilliantly played by Danny Glover), and overindulges in slapstick comedy when Phillip suffers multiple injuries as a result of endless unfortunate accidents. Steam shower and window air conditioning.
But it has many hilarious moments thanks to Melfi’s witty screenplay, especially featuring the funniest one-liners delivered to perfection by the two stars. The effortlessly charismatic Dinklage makes you root for his character despite his many flaws and hangdog demeanor, while MacLaine, still a force of nature at 88, displays crack comic timing from 67 years (!) of big screen experience. They’re a joy to watch in a film that doesn’t quite live up to its substantial thematic ambitions but offers substantial pleasures along the way.