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Movie Review: The Lookout

The Lookout
Written and directed by Scott Frank

Scott Frank is a movie-lover’s writer, a guy who has so many well-known films under his belt, including a film geek’s wet dream with Out of Sight, it’s amazing he hasn’t gotten into the director’s chair sooner, or at least become a bigshot producer.  In a way, his career is like Shane Black, who wrote tons of screenplays that became huge hits, who seemed content just to be a writer until his sorely underseen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.  Frank’s directorial debut is about as good as movies get; let’s hope his is a little more successful.

Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) crashed his car four years ago, leaving two of his friends dead and his girlfriend badly hurt.  He has been having issues with memory and inhibiting his inner monologue.  Pratt lives with another guy who once made a bad mistake that left him handicapped, the blind Lewis (Jeff Daniels).  Things are labeled for him, and he carries around a notebook to help him remember things.  He’s a bit like Guy Pearce in Memento, but not that bad.

Pratt works at a bank mopping floors after closing, visited occasionally by a cop, Ted (Sergio Di Zio), who gives him donuts.  Scoping out Pratt is Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode), who wants to rob the bank, staging a friendship and even hiring a woman, Luvlee (Isla Fisher), to be his girlfriend.  Spargo lets Pratt in on the plot once he has sufficiently been drawn in and begins to feel like the people who really care for him are the enemy.

Ah, but this is a smart thriller and the film never resorts to anything cliche.  Small bits in the film become important later, something I love in any kind of movie but especially one like this.  I’m not sure Joseph Gordon-Levitt will ever be a huge star, but the guy is a great actor and that’s what counts for those of us who watch tons of movies.  This is a difficult character to play and he does it seemlessly.  The entire supporting cast is extremely fine here, especially Daniels and Goode, but after watching Fisher steal Wedding Crashers and show good range with a limited dramatic role here, I’d like to see her more often.  Being cute doesn’t hurt.

But the real star here is Frank, who crafts a movie I’ll probably watch over and over.  It’s just excellent no matter how you slice it.  As a writer, he’s clever, and as a director, he doesn’t overindulge his own writing.  We can only hope Frank’s movie will resonate with the rest of the country; we need more movies like this.


Comment from Jonathan Watkins
Time: March 30, 2007, 10:54 pm

I’m gonna go see this tomorrow; can’t wait. Scott Frank, alone, makes it worth it. And while all the people want to throw Ryan Gosling up there (Deservedly so) as the best young actor working today, I think Gordon-Levitt might be giving him a run for the money. Mysterious Skin, Brick, and now what looks to be his third great film in a row make him hard to ignore. Isla Fisher surely can’t hurt anything. Can’t wait.

Comment from Linda
Time: March 31, 2007, 3:21 pm

Good review, I really enjoyed this film too. Such a well crafted piece on so many levels. I like your reviews, keep up the good work!

Comment from The Projectionist
Time: March 31, 2007, 6:51 pm

Thanks Linda. It’s always good to hear from the readers. Comment any time.

Comment from KW
Time: April 2, 2007, 10:48 am

Hmmm. Sounds pretty interesting. These days, when I don’t see nearly as many movies as I want to…your stamp of approval carries a lot of weight. Also carrying a lot of weight is the fact that this movie is from the guy who wrote Out of Sight. That’s all I really need to know.

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