Friday, September 24, 2021

Weekend Screen Scene: The Guilty, I'm Your Man

The Guilty is a one man show with a star-studded cast. That one man is Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays Joes, an angry 911 operator working what he hopes is his final shift before a court hearing that will determine whether he can return to the LAPD. The star-studded cast is in all the voices that call him that night. And the "guilty" are...well, you'll know by the end of the film.

If this set-up sounds like something that is perfectly suited for filming during a global pandemic, you'd be correct. In the majority of the film Gyllenhaal is alone on screen, conversing with characters played by Paul Dano, Bill Burr, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, and Riley Keough. Those last two fill the film with its central mystery: A young woman has been abducted, but by whom? And what has happened to the children she keeps referring to?

Joe is a tough hero to root for. He's rude and gruff with both the people who call him and his co-workers, and he's clearly got bigger things on his mind than those who are in search of help. But Gyllenhaal has a face made for the movies; he can be mesmerizing. Maybe it's those huge eyes. In any case, it takes an actor with his intensity to hold an audience's attention for that much screen time. The Guilty isn't action packed, but it's never a boring watch.

The Guilty is currently playing in select theaters and will start streaming on Netflix on October 1st.

Dan Stevens stars as Tom, the synthetic lover in I'm Your Man, a sci-fi romantic comedy from German director Maria Schrader. But this isn't an adult version of A.I. Artificial Intelligence where the robot is the center of the story. Instead, the robot centers the story on Alma (Maren Eggert), a lonely scientist who's at first in denial of her loneliness, but then begins to see what she's missing, while also pondering the cost of accepting manufactured happiness into her life.

Dan Stevens as an android is practically type-casting. He's always looked like he could have emerged from a factory that created movie stars on an assembly line. Pair those looks with the stilted behavior of a robot learning the ropes of love, and it's almost too perfect. But what's most surprising about Steven's performance is that he gives it in perfect German, which made me wonder, has he been German all along too?? (No, turns out he just studied the language in school.) 

I'm Your Man is a sci-fi rom-com that's a bit low on the sci-fi, the laughs, and the romance. But that's because it's more interested in the philosophical questions the combination of all those things can raise.

I'm You Man is currently playing in select theaters and will be available digitally on October 12th.

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