Thursday, June 22

Movie Review: Griffin and Phoenix

This past Tuesday, a friend invited me to join her at the pre-screening of the new Dulmot Mulroney/Amanda Peet film, "Griffin and Phoenix". In preparing for this post, I learned that this is actually a redo of an old Peter Falk/Jill Clayburgh movie from the 1970s. In reading the description of the movie, I got the uncomfortable feeling this was going to be a "three hankie weepie", in my mother's parlance. As you can see from the description from Yahoo! Movies:
A love story about two people who face a seemingly insurmountable obstacle that stands between them and a last chance at love.
So - going in, I was not expecting anything other than a Hollywood treatment of death and dying. When I left the movie, I found myself completely surprised by the depth of the emotion I felt during and after the movie, even given some of the challenges within.

Dulmot Mulroney played completely to his strengths - in terms of how he seems to have evolved into the classic Hollywood leading-man type. Sort of a combination of a Cary Grant and a southern gentleman with a fatalistic understanding of what the doctors have diagnosed. The most poignant scenes with him tend to be when he is barely restraining from a breakdown - whether in the darkness of his 4x4 or moments of reflection. While he was not perfect in his connection to the emotion - he did a remarkable job.

Amanda Peet - unbelieveable. I have watched Ms. Peet in many a film - and have always admired her zany nature and effuse energy as she literally lights up the film - where ever she may be. Even in "Identity", where comedy was not a requisite, she drew emotion and audience connection beyond what might have been expected from a "bimbette" character. In this film, I fell in love with her - her intelligence, her quiet resolve, her personal pain and her many admirable choices. Here is an actress who demonstrated a range and a depth that few can attain - and in what might have been a typical "weepie", she greatly outshown the material and the morbidity of the story.

Interestingly enough - in researching the history of the movie, I found this comment made by John Linehan on IMDB which somewhat encapsulates my thoughts on the movie itself. Granted, Peter Falk is not in this version, but the same sentiments could be carried forward for Ms. Peet:
Griffin and Phoenix' touched us all for one reason: It was real. On one plane, it is a straightforward love story with moments of deep sadness and even humour. However, the Reality we were affected by was not the story itself or how it was filmed. The thing that got through to all of us, was Peter Falk's anguish.

The very things that made the world warm to Columbo; the rumpledness, the ordinary-ness, the hidden cleverness - were all there in this film.

It made us really feel that it was ourselves up on that screen; That it was our agony; our dilemma; our fate.
Do I recommend this movie? Yes - with the understanding that this is a "real" movie in the sense that life has all of these emotions in it at one time or another. Love, anguish, laughter, tears, strong painful decisions - while condensed in terms of movie time, will have you talking long after the film.

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