Saturday, January 19, 2008

Review; The Lookout (2007) [Reviewed By Kelsey Zukowski]

The Lookout
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Isla Fisher
Written & Directed By: Scott Frank
Released: 2007
Grade: B+

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has clearly become a success as an actor. He has had breathtaking performance after performance. Gordon-Levitt has taken over the world of independent films through movies like the truly unbelievable and moving, Mysterious Skin, as well as the very intense Manic and Brick. Gordon-Levitt takes a walk outside of the independent movies and opens up to a bigger audience with his newest film, The Lookout. It’s all for the best too. As many people as possible should be able to view his talents. He chose a good film to do this with too. Writer/Director, Scott Frank was very dedicated to this project and spent nearly a decade on it. Plus he got help from outstanding directors, David Fincher and Sam Mendes.

Chris Pratt (Gordon-Levitt) had it all in high school. He was the star of the hockey team. Even during his first game, he shined and spent the next three years living to his potential. He had great friends and a great girl. His senior prom should have been a highlight of the last four years, a chance to have fun with all those he was close to. Unfortunately, fun is the last way that that night would be described as. He wanted to impress his date, Kelly (Laura Vandervoort). On their way to prom, Chris shuts off his lights. Suddenly, little glowing lights emerge everywhere. It is a beautiful sight, but the beauty ends quickly. The car crashes, two lives are lost, and two others are shattered.

After the accident Chris was in a coma. When he woke up he didn’t remember anything. 4 years later, he is still struggling to remember what happened. He remembers just before it and after, but the most he knows about during are just unclear pieces. More than anything, he just wants his life back. Now he is living in a run down apartment with his friend, Lewis (Daniels). Lewis is a sarcastic blind man that can seem a little harsh at times although in the end he proves to be a true friend to Chris. Chris isn’t too close with his family. His best family relationship is probably with his sister. His dad gives Chris some money, but it doesn’t keep him very stable. Chris’ father acts like everything is a competition. Parts of Chris’ mind still seem to be gone so this just seems to cause more problems between the two of them.

Chris isn’t happy with his life. Lewis and him have talked about opening a restaurant, but it still seems kind of far-fetched. One night at a bar he meets Gary (Goode). Apparently, he dated Chris’ sister in high school. They start talking and they end up becoming friends. Gary also introduces him to Luvlee (Fisher). She was a former stripper and was in the same graduating class as Chris in school. It turns out that Luvlee was quite a big fan of Chris and even remembers the first hockey game he played for the school like it was yesterday. They quickly connect with one another. Between, Gary and Luvlee, Chris starts spending a lot of time at their place. Chris begins to trust Gary. Gary tells him that he is better than the life he is living. He thinks Chris should be living in a better place. He doesn’t think he should depend on things like a janitor job at a bank and his father. Gary is convinced that Chris won’t go anywhere with this job and that the only reason his father gives him the money he does is to control him. Chris is dared to ask his father for $10,000 or even a thousand. Gary tells him that his father wouldn’t give it to him. Gary says that if Chris wants his life back he needs money, because money is power. The proposal to get this is a bit drastic though. Gary proposes that they rob the bank that Chris works at. Chris doesn’t know what to think about this. He knows that he is unhappy with his life, but he isn’t sure if this is the answer. Chris goes back and forth and finally decides that he wants to go through with it. He takes measures to set up the robbery. However, things change. Chris realizes that he just has to work his way up in the world, and he will have a life that he can be proud of. However, he may have figured this out a little too late. Those that he thought were his friends have turned on him and have Chris scared for his life.

The cast made us connected to the characters. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the wronged and lonely man very well. He captures the tragedy without just being a pity case. He makes it in to something beautiful that should be examined and once you look at it, you just can’t look away. Jeff Daniels did a good job as the blind friend too. To capture this well he went to the Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center in Kalamazoo. Daniels studied and observed their actions and things the blind use on a daily basis so he could add this to his character. By the way he looked in the film and his sense of humor he reminded me a lot of “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski. I almost didn’t recognize Matthew Goode. He dropped his accent from Chasing Liberty and added a much tougher exterior. His character reminded me of a gang leader, which makes sense since he was in prison and planning a robbery. He befriended the lonely Chris. He introduced her to a girl he ended up liking a lot. He gave Chris hope for a better life and getting his old one back, which is what Chris wanted more than anything. Chris was smart enough to know that he couldn’t give him his life back. There was no changing the past. However, the things Gary said to him, became convincing and he wanted the things that Gary was promising him. However, he turned on him and wasn’t really a friend at all. Isla Fisher is also a lovely addition to this cast. She brought Chris back to his prime. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and her had great chemistry too; they seemed to really appreciate one another.

The Lookout makes you question who you can trust. Was Gary ever Chris friend in the first place or was he just using him the whole time? Gary causes Chris to almost turn on Lewis. Despite this, he is still there for Chris in the end and almost loses his life because of his bravery and loyalty. It even seems like he can’t trust his father. Chris ends up asking him for the money and he is denied it. Chris feels like his father should be there to help him unconditionally. That seems to be part of the reason why he gives in to what Gary wants, as a way of sticking it to him. We are shown what happens when this trust is betrayed through suspense and a climax of character. Chris reaches this climax through his writing he keeps on a notepad. There are just bits and pieces on each page. We were there with him as he wrote them and are there with him now that he is looking and re-comprehending them. His thoughts often aren’t as clear as they once were, so it is like we are in his mind at this moment.

Another important thing The Lookout does is examines life. What defines life? Is it when it looks like everything is going good for you? The main character is very lucky that he is alive. Two others were killed that night, yet he feels like he doesn’t have a life. He feels like he isn’t the real him, that person was killed in the car crash. That night will never go away, but Chris learns that it will haunt him until he lets it go. He has to be okay with it and move on with his life. The accident was a tragedy, but sometimes, good things can come from that. You just have to live your life and work to have the best one you can.

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