Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Lookout: Dramatic New Suspense Flick is So Much More than a Bank Robbery

A young man at the wheel of an expensive auto feels the deceptive thrill of youth. He is a star hockey player, has designer looks, a winning smile and the seemingly perfect girlfriend by his side. It’’s all there —— or it was. The young man is Chris Pratt, who stupidly pushes his luck by pushing the pedal to impress, racing his car with its headlights off into a devastating collusion. Chris’’s back seat passenger friends will die, his girlfriend will survive minus one leg, and he will spend his entire life paying the price in the mental damage he now struggles valiantly to overcome. Each day, he makes notes to himself in order to function. Now and then he thinks he sees his estranged girlfriend in the distance, but is unable to reach out. At night, he does janitorial work at a bank, dreaming of becoming a teller. He shares a gloomy flat with a blind man, Lewis.

And he is about to be manipulated by some no-good low-lives from out of his past into a bank robbery. A stroke of perfect casting gave the part of Chris to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose acting muse is obviously early Leonardo DeCaprio —— before DeCaprio settled for overscripted Hollywood popcorn like The Departed. Gordon-Levitt pulls us into his crippled though proud existence. His roommate, Lewis (played by Jeff Daniels) is at first unattractive but earns our sympathy and respect; the two dream of starting their own restaurant. In the dark shadows here, there are relief lights of rare humor.

Written and directed by Scott Frank, The Lookout is unflinching in its bare-bones narrative force, perhaps too downbeat and morose at times for its own good, commercially. Still, this movie left me with a deeper appreciation for the mentally ill and the variously handicapped souls who struggle nobly day in and day out to make the most of their lives. The lookout ends on a promising note both sad and affirmative.

Solid respect from Showbiz David.

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