The Lookout

The Lookout

Film review by: Witney Seibold

joseph_gordon_levitt2.jpg

 

            Warning: I might give away some plot details…

 

            “The Lookout” writer/director Scott Frank is responsible for the screenplays to very good Hollywood thrillers like “Dead Again” and “Get Shorty.” As is the case with longtime screenwriters who begin to direct, his film “The Lookout” takes more glee from its quiet moments of interpersonal dialogue and characters’ internal struggles than it does with chases and climaxes. This is no bad thing, as “The Lookout’s” interpersonal dialogue makes for some very intimate close-ups of damaged people, and the characters’ internal struggles are actually unusual and daring for a thriller.

            Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a young actor who seems to be improving with each edgy role he accepts, plays Chris Pratt, an ex-high school football star who accidentally killed two of his friends, severely injured his girlfriend, and suffered a doozy of a head trauma in a car accident years ago. He is now living in a halfway house of sorts with a blind roommate named Lewis (Jeff Daniels, very good), working in a bank as a janitor, and trying to pick up the patters of everyday life again. Chris is in bad shape: He has protracted social awkwardness oozing from him, he suffers short-term memory loss, he cannot properly sequence events in his head, and occasionally cries for no reason. To help him through the days, he, like Leonard in “Memento,” has to write small notes for himself. He wants no help from his family (represented by patriarch Bruce McGill), and has no real friends other than Lewis, a clerk at the bank, and a friendly cop who shares donuts with him.

 

            When he meets an old school chum named Gary (Matthew Goode) in a bar, they start up a casual relationship that he hasn’t has since his accident. Chris is thrilled, although a little wary that his illness will scare them off. He also begins having a real-life affair with Gary’s friend Luvlee (Isla Fisher). Lewis tries to warn Chris that there’s something fishy going on, but Chris is too busy trying to merely survive to snoop or ask the right questions. Of course, there is something fishy going on; Gary only wants Chris to help them with a bank heist. He is to be the lookout, you see.

 

            “The Lookout,” though, is not a film about a heist. It is a film about the desperate things that damaged people need to do in order to have their lives make sense. The screenplay wisely gives us a little bit of each person, so we know why they do what they do. Lewis, for instance) dreams big (he wants to open a diner), and can still be friends with Chris even after they swear at each other. Chris is not defined by his illness or desires, but is a full-bodied man with complex relationships with everyone in his life. Even Luvlee (and the name would lead one to believe that she’s merely a floozy) is on the grill at one point.

             So yes, there is a heist, and there is a shootout, and there is a car chase and there are a lot of criminals running around in “The Lookout,” but the final shootout does not have as much a sense of triumph or completion as the final scenes in which Chris and Lewis are finally, tentatively, starting their own business and finally proving that they’ve healed themselves enough, physically and emotionally, to make good in the world.            

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Published in: on June 26, 2007 at 9:39 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Hey! Just watched this movie last night on DVD and LOVED IT. I’ve been a Joseph Gorden-Levitt fan since “3rd Rock from the Sun” and I continue to be impressed by the complexity he brings to his characters.
    I was also impressed with Matthew Goode whom I first noticed in “Match Point”.


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