Quick Reviews: 'The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent', 'Persuasion' | Nicolas Cage, Period Drama
THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT
Now, wouldn't it be super ridiculous if this was the unbelievably convoluted opening of a sizeable review of The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent? Sometimes it's preferable to keep things somewhat short so let's indulge that another time, shall we? There's enough absurdity and even tomfoolery already in the film itself, since Nicolas Cage stars as, you know it, Nick Cage. Taking some elements of the actor's real life, Nick is a famous actor who's experiencing a lull in his career, is in considerable financial debt and struggling to connect with his teenage daughter Addy (Lily Sheen). When an offer from Spanish billionaire and superfan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) to be a guest of honour for his birthday comes Nick's way, he reluctantly accepts and ends up in middle of CIA's investigation of Javi.
''Massive Talent'' ultimately settles to be an action comedy and good thing is that humour turns out to be its strongest asset. Most of the movie is a two-hander between Cage and Pascal, and their chemistry is really great and none of the false notes come from their banter or shared scenes. Since their characters are an actor and aspiring screenwriter, it's also sharp writing from Kevin Etten and director Tom Gormican to include meta jokes about the film's genres, plotting and some-but-not-too-many actual films, like a brilliant bit about 'Paddington 2'. While the film has plenty of energy in its first half and moves along briskly, Gormican loses a bit of his touch once it tries to bite in to dramatic and adventurous territories, mainly with storylines regarding Nick's relationship with Addy and ex-partner Olivia (Sharon Horgan). Those intimate and quiet moments just feel slightly untruthful, especially when compared to hit rate that the comedic bits have.
Frowneys: Minor directing flaws
Are we being watched? Oh yes, we are but surely plenty of you won't mind because the one doing the fourth wall breaking is Dakota Johnson after all. Yet another period drama based on a Jane Austen novel, director Carrie Cracknell brings Persuasion to your homes, adapted by Ron Bass and Alice Winslow on the page. When we meet her, it's been several years since Anne Elliot (Johnson) broke off her engagement with Captain Frederick Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis) due to external pressure. As she's now closer to her thirties than teens and forced to move after her father Sir Walter's (Richard E. Grant) finances have dwindled, Anne and Frederick's paths cross again. Their initial flirtation doesn't lead to anything as Anne pulls away from the situation, leading them to date other people while wondering if the break-up was ever a good idea.
It's rather surprising that the fourth wall breaking turns out to be one of more effective parts of the film—considering that the its visage is so determined to not be roasted in TikTok comments section—as Johnson hits those marks with ease and Cracknell and editor Pani Scott use them to inject energy into the storytelling. That certainly is needed as the urgency to please takes control in the script, making characters feel too flimsy and unreachable when we're supposed to care whether Anne and Frederick find each other again. That tackiness also bleeds into the acting, such as that of flat and stone-faced Jarvis and Mia McKenna-Bruce (as Mary Elliot) who'd fit in better in British soap opera than a romantic drama like Persuasion. Some joy can be found in Johnson's mannerisms and Grant's short-lived, eccentric appearances but none of it is enough to cover the movie's biggest sins which are its dull nature and lack of chemistry.
Frowneys: Cosmo Jarvis, characterisation, story, Mia McKenna-Bruce