An Actor Prepares
dir Steve Clark
scr Steve Clark, Thomas Moffett
prd Tom Butterfield, Steve Clark, Tom Lassally, David M Rosenthal, Will Rowbotham, Derrick Tseng
with Jeremy Irons, Jack Huston, Ben Schwartz, Mamie Gummer, Matthew Modine, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Will Patton, Frankie Faison, Poorna Jagannathan, Larry Pine, Owen Harn, Whitney Goin
release US/UK 3.Sep.18
18/US 1h37
An Actor Prepares
Daddy issues: Irons and Huston

schwartz gummer modine
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
An Actor Prepares A road movie with father-son themes, this comedy-drama is packed with lively interaction that helps make the swell of emotion bearable. It also features engaging central performances from Jeremy Irons and Jack Huston as outspoken men who struggle to find common ground. The film is fast and snappy, and refreshingly avoids wallowing in sentimentality even as it makes some pointed observations.

A serious actor who segued into populist fluff, the cantankerous Atticus (Irons) has just won a lifetime achievement award when he has a heart attack. This reunites him with estranged son Adam (Huston), a feminist documentarian. With his father banned from flying, Adam has to travel with him cross-country to the wedding of his sister Annabelle (Gummer). But both Adam and Atticus are afraid they might kill each other on the road together in a private bus. A series of antics help them confront their issues and begin to plot out some sort of relationship.

As they travel, Atticus is reading the Bible as research before his next film role playing God, but what he really wants is alcohol and drugs, both of which are of course forbidden. This sparks more foul-mouthed outrage, but also allows him to connect with his son for the first time. Meanwhile, Adam's adversarial relationship with Atticus is giving him second thoughts about becoming a father with Clementine (Echikunwoke). And both men are avoiding the most serious things on their minds.

Irons has a ball tearing up the screen with acerbic outbursts and scathing wit, then adding intriguing hints of depth underneath his bluster. Opposite him, Huston is more subtle as a man straining to be sensitive to those around him, which clearly doesn't come naturally to him. His journey is a bit more grounded and identifiable. Lively side characters include Schwartz as Atticus' fast-talking agent, Jagannathan as his patient doctor and Harn as their ex-con bus driver.

Filmmaker Clark skilfully the expansive American landscape along with offbeat cultural landmarks. One stop along the way is at Atticus' mountain cabin, which sparks some nostalgia. And clips of his filmography also add history to his relationship with his son, which neither of them has bothered to work on before this. And even if most encounters along the road are a little corny (like an mind-opening experience with Patton's shaman), the film is an entertaining showcase for these two actors. And it might provoke some emotion as well.

cert 15 themes, language 30.Aug.18

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... An Actor Prepares Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.

© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall