Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the speculative “Clara,” the dark comedy “Dead in a Week” and the delightful “Nothing Like Dame” starring Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Joan Plowright and Dame Maggie Smith.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the metaphysical drama “Clara,” the dark comedy “Dead in a Week” and the delightful “Nothing like a Dame” featuring Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Joan Plowright and Dame Maggie Smith.
No one will accuse “Clara” director/co-writer Akash Sherman of playing it safe. For his debut feature the twenty-something filmmaker essays no less a topic than the existence of life in outer space.
Suits star Patrick J. Adams is Dr. Isaac Bruno, a university professor placed on sabbatical when his obsession to find life on other planets gets in the way of him doing his job. Time off is no remedy for his fixation and he continues his search with the help of a co-worker Dr. Charlie Durant (Ennis Esmer ) and a research assistant named Clara (Troian Bellisario).
Bruno is a facts and figures guy, a pragmatist who studies the data looking for connections, desperate to fill the hole left in his heart by the death of his child by finding new life in the universe.
Clara is more abstract, a believer in the randomness of the universe beyond the numbers and maps. The push and pull between their approaches makes for a rocky relationship but her spiritualism may hold the roadmap for Isaac’s quest.
Austere, low-key and yet ambitious, “Clara” is about the power of loss and discovery. Add in a big dollop of spirituality and you have a movie that isn’t quite sci fi even though it spends much of its time ruminating on speculative themes. It’s solemn and often feels overwrought, asking question after question without offering much in the way of insight or true emotion.
Director Sherman shows an undeniable eye for composition and atmosphere. It’s in the storytelling that “Clara” wobbles. The push-and-pull between objectivity and intuition is interesting but overplayed to the point of exhaustion. The climax reaches for the stars, offering a hopeful note, that will strike some as poetic, others as the very definition of schmaltz.
In the real world Leo Palamino (Ryan Kwanten) would be a stalker, an obsessed man so enamored with Colette (Sara Canning) that he follows her every move, plays Peeping Tom and even shows up at her wedding to announce his undying love for her
In “The Right Kind of Wrong,” however, he’s the romantic lead, a “charmer” who won’t take no for an answer.
When we first meet Leo he’s a struggling writer, making ends meet as a dishwasher at his friend Mandeep’s (Raoul Bhaneja) restaurant. He’s also unhappily married to Julie (Kristen Hager).
“I’ve been writing a blog about you,” she announces, “about how much you suck.”
The marriage falls apart and Leo must deal with Julie’s newfound fame as a star blogger, turned author turned hot topic chat show guest. Her notoriety and his prominence as a “major pop culture reference” (for all the wrong reasons) makes it hard for him to move on with his life until he catches a glimpse of Colette on her wedding day. Instantly smitten he makes it his life’s work to shed his image as the world’s worst husband and pry her away from the arms of her husband Danny (Ryan McPartlin), a rich lawyer who looks like a superhero but behaves like a lout.
Based on Tim Sandin’s novel “Sex and Sunsets,” “The Right Kind of Wrong” is meant to be a feel good rom com but despite some engaging performances—most notably from Bhaneja has the kind-hearted boss and best friend and Catherine O’Hara as Colete’s eccentric mother—is saddled with a predictable, silly script that isn’t nearly as charming as it thinks it is.
“Benny & Joon” director Jeremiah Chechik takes a traditional approach to the material for the most part—there are precocious kids (Maya Samy and Mateen Devji), square jawed hunks and beautiful Banff, Alberta as a backdrop—but there’s something that feels wonky about the casting of Kwanten as the love sick lead.
Stubble aside (does he only own razors that leave a quarter inch of stubble on his well formed face?) he manages to pull off some of unrealistic dreamer Leo’s innocence but not the comedy so crucially required to make this unusual fairytale work.
The story doesn’t make sense. Who, other than Ben Braddock would actually declare his love for a woman he doesn’t know at her wedding? You need some very clever character work to get us past that glaring plot device and it just isn’t here, in the script or in Kwanten’s performance.
Top it off with what can only be described as a disturbing consummation scene—it most definitely isn’t a love scene—and you’re left with a movie that should have been called “More Wrong than Right.”