By far not one of the most elegant works of Nicholson and Bates, this movies struggles under "indie" tag assigned by the director.
Here’s an interesting movie I have been planning to see for a long time. And now, after watching it I have bipolar feelings about it. From one side its a brilliant presentation of incredibly outstanding acting. However from the other side, I did not found the story itself to be compelling enough.
What is the film about? Well, its about Schmidt, I suppose you did guess that right. Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) is very uninteresting character. And I’m sure even he thinks of himself as uninteresting person living uninteresting life. For the last 30 years he has been working as an actuary at insurance company and now he faces retirement. Unfortunately for him there is nothing in this world that can bring him any kind of joy – not his wife, with whom he has been married last 42 years and whom he despises with all his heart. Nor his daughter, who is getting ready to get married to some loser he doesn’t approve. So he sits and waits slowly for his life to pass by sitting on his beloved armchair and watching TV commercials. And then maybe out of pure coincidence or just due to momentarily compulsion, he decides to pick up the phone and answer the ad for African child support program to donate $22 for a 6 year old kid in Tanzania. Suddenly life has bigger plans for him. His wife dies, and he is left with ugly consequence of being all alone in this place.
Over last 50+ years Jack Nicholson created a whole array of different characters. But Schmidt is unlike anything he has created before. Knowing even some of his roles, its very hard to imagine HIM portraying such a character. And I think this is what not only saves the film, but takes it to another level. Truly impressive portrayal. He adds a new dimension to the emotionally distant, cold, and sad Schmidt. His facial expressions are flawless, and when at times he doesn’t say anything you can say with 100% certainty what exactly passes through his mind.
Kathy Bates is unlike any actress you’ve ever seen. Her every role has its own life. Yet, I was very surprised to see her in this film, especially for the role she was given. And believe when I say it, she is fun.
The movie is made in the tone of tragicomedy, but probably its more of a tragedy, than comedy. I usually don’t like movies where the protagonist is a sad character being mocked and laughed at. But this movie has another side to it. The first half goes this way, but the movie changes quickly in the other direction and suddenly you have totally different feel for it. Overall directing is well, but it is full with dull shots that make the overall slow progression even slower. I mean, if you are making a film with arthouse topic, just give it an arthouse look. But the director Alexander Payne decides not to.
Film is a good watch, but I warn you, at points you’d yawn. Still I’d really suggest this movie due to only Jack Nicholson performace.