Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Anchorage ’14: The Lookalike
Mulligan has to be the nicest movie drug dealer since Mel Gibson in Tequila Sunrise. He is about to start
courting Mila, who is deaf and has one prosthetic leg. Sadly, she has even
worse problems to deal with, not including Mulligan. Their romance will be
complicated by some dodgy narco-wheeling-and-dealing in Richard Gray’s The Lookalike (trailer here), which screens
during the 2014 Anchorage International Film Festival.
and his brother Holt must be the two whitest guys in New Orleans. Salt-of-the-earth
Joe only took up dealing to pay off their old man’s gambling debts. In
contrast, his younger brother is a coke fiend and basically all-around pond
scum, but in a way that is supposed to be endearing. Having finally cleared his
father’s debts with Vincent, the family loan shark, the more mature Mulligan
has tendered notice to his former employers, Bobby and Frank. They seem
surprisingly cool with it, perhaps because they have a bigger deal to worry about.
some reason to be revealed later, their retiring supplier is willing to turn
over his business to them if they can arrange a night with Sadie Hill, a
presumably ordinary civilian. The deal is all arranged until some last minute re-negotiating
leads to Hill’s unlikely death. Obviously, they need a dead ringer—someone like
Lacey, the cokehead who somehow became romantically involved with the
irresponsible Mulligan. Anyone can tell this is a bad idea, but Holt has his
own debt with Vincent to repay and Joe needs cash to finance his prospective
cooking show (yes, really). It is a dream that would give him the respectability
to pursue Mila, who also happens to be a concerned friend of the missing Hill.
the years between Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, an indie crime film like Lookalike used to be released nearly
every month. They all had hip urban characters who are secretly interconnected
in ways they never realized and periodically do shocking things to keep us on
our toes. Lookalike is a lot like
those films that are like other films, but at least Gray keeps the energy level
up and screenwriter Michele Gray skips the self-referential indulgences. Since
it is ostensibly set in New Orleans, one might also hope for some distinctive
local jazz, but no such luck.
he is not exactly terrific, but somehow Jerry O’Connell is engaging enough to maintain
viewer attention. He also develops some surprisingly effective screen chemistry
with Scottie Thompson, quietly overachieving as the fate-challenged Mila. In
contrast, Justin Long, the Mac Guy, is aggressively annoying and
problematically light weight as unreliable Holt. At least John Corbett and
Steven Bauer get with the program, hamming it up just enough as the villainous
partners. Frustratingly though, The
Lookalike criminally underutilizes Luis Guzmán’s Vincent.
The Lookalike is dark and
reasonably diverting, but nothing a genre fan has not seen done more stylishly
dozens of times before. While it has already had its New York run, it may very
well see some more festival and specialty attention following the announcement
the Grays would write and direct the American remake/reboot/re-conception of Takashi
Miike’s Audition. Right, good luck
with that. It’s not like the original made a strong impression. For now, The Lookalike is just sort of okay, but
there are probably worse ways to spend a winter night in Alaska. For cult fans
of Guzmán and Scarface’s Bauer, it screens tonight (12/6) and tomorrow
(12/7) as part of this year’s Anchorage International Film Festival.
Labels: Anchorage '14, Luis Guzman