Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Lookout. A

To put it in simple form, 'The Lookout' fits the definition of 'perfect' more than anything I can think of right now. It's a subtle, soaring masterpiece, the kind of movie that sucks you in and doesn't take you out, even when the movie is long over. The story goes like this: Chris (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a star hockey player in high school when he gets in a devastating car accident (it's his fault because he was driving without the headlights) that kills two of the passengers and severely wounds his own mental state. Now Chris is living away from home with a blind man (Jeff Daniels) in a small apartment. He has lost almost everything. He can't play hockey, he has trouble remembering things (he has to write almost every detail in his life-a nice 'Memento' touch), and his temper randomly catches fire. He says things that he can't control and then immediately regrets them. but don't think that this guy is a lunatic. He's very bright. He just has a few disabilities that he does his best to deal with. Chris works as a janitor at a bank. One day he meets Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) at a bar along with the lovely Luvlee Lemons (Isla Fisher). He forms a romantic interest with Luvlee and a hesitant friendship with Spargo. While attending a post-Thanksgiving feast, Spargo informs Chris that he plans to rob the bank that he works at. Now, this sounds like pretty formulaic stuff. But believe me, it's not. It's more a character study of Chris than it is a thriller (though the 'thriller' aspect of the film is definitely edge-of-your seat brilliance). There are two major keys to the success of 'The Lookout.' First of all is the script by Scott Frank (he also gets his first shot at in the director's chair and does a mighty job). He's written some great movies before, but this one is the first one that is completely flawless. It combines a riveting portrait of a damaged youth with a smart, genius plot fueled by endlessly inventive supporting characters. And that brings me to the second key: the performances. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of the finest and most ambitious actors working today-does his best work yet as Chris. Everything he does is believable. Not one aspect of his character is corny or cheap. He also has great support. Daniels is brilliant. You'd think that a wise blind man would spell total disaster. But somehow it's the total opposite. Also, Carla Gugino (in a small, but memorable role), Isla Fisher, and Matthew Goode all shine. If Ebert said that 'Fargo' is the reason he loves movies, then 'The Lookout' is the reason I love movies. It's is one of the coolest movies I've seen.

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