Most of us love a good story. And, if you’re lucky, you’ve had the experience of being so caught up in a good story that you shut out everything else that is going on around you. You bite your nails as the tension builds, cheer for the hero, hiss at the villain and ride the ebb and flow of the story until the end.
This movie puts you in the audience with the protagonist, as he listens to a story. And, throughout the whole film, you wide the waves of anticipation with him until the story resolves. And, damned if they don’t deliver a good story. It’s riveting, engaging and convincing.
On to the acting: I’m going to out myself as a Kevin Spacey fan. Now, that’s hardly an exclusive club. I feel that Spacey as a real flair for the subtle and understated. Spacey gets to do the types of leading roles that are made for men that can’t rely on physicality or over the top theatrics. What Spacey does well is bring drama to the common man, in significant and realistic ways, that make him interesting and credible. It’s not that he isn’t theatrical, he’s just restrained in how he performs so that there is always an underlying electricity to his performance.
And, because of Spacey’s mastery of subtlety and nuance, he pulls off the role of Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint like very few other actors could. Verbal is one of the most pathetic, mealy-mouthed characters ever put on film. But, Spacey has to deliver him in a way that keeps the audience engaged in the movie because Kint is the narrator of events. Spacey toes the line and delivers a performance that is stunning.
His foil in the movie is Gabriel Byrne, who plays the character Dean Keaton. What Kint lacks in physical prowess and charisma, Keaton delivers in spades. And, while Keaton proves to be a fiery and volatile character, Byrne sustains the energy of the character throughout the entire movie in an unrelenting fashion. He provides the perfect cover for the screenwriters to work their magic and deliver the delicious plot twist in denouement.
The best part of this is movie, to me, is how it so clearly illustrates how our expectations, our way of thinking and our beliefs shape our perception of things. Because we have such clear cut beliefs about who the villains are, and who the good people ought to be, we can miss what is right under our nose.
Rent it, watch it, tell me what you think . . . but this is one of my favorite flicks.