Magazine article Screen International

Manglehorn

Magazine article Screen International

Manglehorn

Article excerpt

Dir: David Gordon Green. US. 2014. 97mins

Manglehorn shows director David Gordon Greene's ability to tell a familiar story in an impressively off-kilter manner, charting the story of reclusive elderly Texan locksmith and his tenuous relationships with the few people he allows close to him. Though well performed and engaging at times, Manglehorn (a great title...promising much, but in the end just a name) ultimately rather flatters to deceive, following an entirely predictable route when somehow hinting at moments of drama and intrigue that never emerge.

It is a relatively reigned-in performance from Pacino - both in terms of his line delivery and physical mannerisms - but he makes the most of his lengthy monologues (often internal ones) as he does his best to flesh out a bitter man who feels life has robbed him of happiness.

The film certainly succeeds in its sense of understated unsentimentality, frustrated romanticism and gently left-field moments of humour, but after the director's recent films - such as Joe (screened at Venice last year) and Prince Avalanche - and the high profile casting of Al Pacino expectations will be high and this rather quirky story of loneliness and longing.

It is a relatively reigned-in performance from Pacino - both in terms of his line delivery and physical mannerisms - but he makes the most of his lengthy monologues (often internal ones) as he does his best to flesh out a bitter man who feels life has robbed him of happiness. Less flashy than The Humbling, which also premiered at Venice, it is a role that allows him some shambling fun though it does feel a little over-written at times.

Locksmith A.J. Manglehorn (Pacino) leads a solitary life, busy with work before pottering home to feed his much-loved cat. There he drinks, eats bad food and writes letters to Clara, the long-lost love of his life. He has a fractured relationship with his wealthy son (Chris Messina), though tenderly plays with his granddaughter every week, and the only other person he appears fond of is bank teller Dawn (Holly Hunter), who he chats to every Friday when he pays in money from his business.

He and Dawn set up a tentative date (at the local Legion where they tuck into pancakes) and he subsequently asks her out for dinner. It is a beautifully excruciating scene as she expresses her open warmth to him while he simply talks about how wonderful Clara was and how much he clings to her memories. …

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