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|The Weather Man|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Gore Verbinski|
scr Steve Conrad
with Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis, Nicholas Hoult, Gemmenne de la Peña, Michael Rispoli, Gil Bellows, Dina Facklis, Judith McConnell, Joe Bianchi, Jason Wells, Bryant Gumbel
release US 28.Oct.05, UK 3.Mar.06
05/US Paramount 1h41
Storm brewing: Caine and Cage
It may be rather mopey and languid, but this intensely introspective comedy has the ability to get under our skin and change the way we look at our lives.
David Spritz (Cage) is a star Chicago weatherman frustrated with the way his life has turned out--estranged from his wife (Davis), struggling to understand his troubled-teen kids (Hoult and de la Peña), overshadowed by his Pulitzer Prize-winning dad (Caine). He's got a chance of a new job on a national TV programme in New York, so he decides to sort out the other things as well. But life is even more unpredictable than the weather. And there's a storm brewing.
Conrad's script is so full of intricate details that it can't help but resonate. There's an emphasis on father-son issues, as the film parallels David's attempts to connect with both his father and his children. These aren't bad relationships to begin with, but David's yearning for more than what he has is easy to identify with. Cage conveys stunned mid-life confusion perfectly, basically just sulking throughout the whole movie, pondering his existence. Yes, that's n rather wearing to sit through, but he also brings out a spark of hopeful optimism that makes the journey worth taking.
The supporting cast is solid, especially Davis, who adds levels of anger and brittleness that make us hold our breath. Caine is exactly right for his role as the statesmanlike patriarch who's still surprisingly in touch with modern culture. But they really should have just made him English, because his strained American drawl is jarring. Hoult doesn't share this problem, and is terrific in several surprising scenes, as is de la Peña in the film's most intriguing role.
Verbinski orchestrates this elegantly, with simple, stark, blackly comical camera work that really catches the mood, even though it also makes the film feel both overlong and indulgent. Fortunately every scene jolts to life with Conrad's hilariously astute dialog. This is a very strong examination of modern life, most notably the way we can only find real happiness by accepting both who and where we are. In that sense, it's unmissable.
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© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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