‘‘I know what it is you did.’
Oh dear. Things didn’t seem too hopeful after watching the trailer. Expectations were low going in. Even then I ended up very disappointed. This is a dreary, dull affair. Characters you care very little go about doing things you care very little about. It’s only 90 minutes but it feels so much longer. So, so, so much longer. That’s because there are no reasons to get invested in the plot. I say plot, but that’s a term I use loosely as there isn’t much of one. As with Woody Allen’s recent output, the focus is on the small scale mundanities – how life gets in the way and never plays out as we wish nor plan. In theory anyway.
The film opens with us being introduced to our truly unhelpful and truly needless narrator Mickey (Justin Timberlake). He has dreams of being a playwright like Eugene O’Neill and believes he could one day write the greatest story of his generation. Timberlake is hugely miscast in the role, frustrating to watch and unpleasant to spend time with. He’s the centre of a love triangle, being adored by almost 40-something waitress called Ginny (Kate Winslet) and her recently arrived step-daughter Carolina (Juno Temple). We’re given little reason to believe that Mickey is capable of inducing such adoration; although both female characters are simultaneously so overwrought yet underdeveloped that it should come as no surprise.
Speaking of no surprises, Mickey regularly breaks the fourth wall with inputs that add very little too proceedings. In between his prosaic profundities and Winslet’s one-note character – the stifled wife who dreams of more – our brief stay in this world seems way too long. Thankfully, and the one redeeming note, is that it looks beautiful. 1950s Coney Island has not looked this good since ‘Brooklyn’.
Thinking about that reminded me how much I loved ‘Brooklyn’. ‘Brooklyn’ was amazing. ‘Brooklyn’ must be available somewhere online.
Go watch that instead of this.
You’ll be happier for it.