Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Capsule Film Reviews: Duane Hopwood

Duane Hopwood (David Schwimmer) is a hophead. He’s lost his wife (Janeane Garafalo) because of his drinking. He’s lost his job at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City because he gave money to a loud mouthed gambler on the make who just won the slot machine jackpot with his quarter in a moment of kindness. He’s about to lose his two daughters after he is picked up one night, drunk, with his daughter in the back seat of his truck. Duane Hopwood is one of those realistic films that one sees far too little of in a blockbuster obsessed Hollywood these days and that is too bad. It’s a wonderful film with excellent performances and the requisite Hollywood happy ending though in this case it is not fairy tale overblown. Duane Hopwood ends with Duane, with his roommate (Judah Friedlander) and his new girlfriend (Susan Lynch) eating Thanksgiving with their next door probably gay neighbours (Dick Cavett and Bill Buell) making us think Duane has finally put his life back together again thanks to his new found family in only 89 minutes. Unfortunately, the film is marred by a really bad habit American independent cinema has picked up from the Hollywood suits. It has a pop driven sound track that just doesn’t add to the emotional or the psychological tone of the film in the way orchestral soundtracks often used to and still sometimes do and seems tacked onto the film to bring the younger demographic set into the cinema, something that as far as I can tell, never really works particularly with a slice of life film like this. Duane Hopwood only made some $14,000 bucks at the box office. Needless to say Mulhern hasn’t made another film since. And that is a shame because Duane Hopwood really is a good film. Recommended.

Duane Hopwood, 2005, directed and written by Matt Mulhern, 83 minutes, 1:85:1

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