May 1, 2008 -- This meticulously constructed movie is compelling from beginning to end as we follow its broken main character, Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt of the “Third Rock from the Sun” TV show) on a spiritual journey into danger. Pratt, once a star athlete, is recovering from brain injuries suffered in a terrible car crash. Others died in the car crash and Pratt was responsible. The memories of that fateful night haunt him. He has short-term memory problems and some motor skill impairment due to his brain injury. He rooms with another disabled man, Lewis (Jeff Daniels of “Good Night and Good Luck”), who lost his sight as a result of making illegal methamphetamines. Pratt gets by with help from his parents and a job he has at a small bank.
He is befriended by a man named Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode of “Match Point”) and by his girlfriend, Luvlee (Isla Fisher of “Wedding Crashers”). Luvlee becomes Pratt's lover. Lewis wonders what these people want of Pratt. He soon finds out. They want Pratt to help them rob the bank he works for. Seduced by Luvlee's sexual favors and Gary's promises to make him rich and important, Pratt goes along with the scheme. This leads to a deadly situation which threatens both Pratt's life and that of his friend, Lewis. Somehow, he needs to outsmart these bank robbers in order to stay alive and save Lewis. The movie builds smoothly to a suspenseful climax. There is not a false step along the way. The script, the acting and the direction are flawless.
Though it sounds like it, this is not a story about redemption. Pratt makes mistakes that are deadly. He is a deeply flawed person. The best you can say for him is that he is naive and is trying to be a better person. This is the story of evil people who take advantage of a brain-damaged man in the worst possible way. The relationship between Pratt, Spargo and Luvlee is complicated. The film raises the tantalizing possibility that their relationship goes all the way back to high school. Pratt knows he is being manipulated, but is egotistical enough to go along with it. Spargo's estimation of Pratt is very perceptive and his manipulation of Pratt is very slick, but he also underestimates Pratt. The robbers also underestimate “Deputy Doughnut,” a local cop (played by Sergio Di Zio of “Cinderella Man”) who has befriended Pratt. The deputy faithfully brings doughnuts to the bank every night Pratt works, and tries to cheer him up. They also underestimate Lewis, who is blind, but sees through Luvlee's deceptions. This film rates an A.
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