- compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Jan
Roy (Nicolas Cage), the central character of Ridley Scott's modest comedy/crime-caper
Sure enough, 14-year-old Angela (the extraordinary Alison Lohman) shows up and moves in. Roy has to get used to being called Dad even as he adjusts to living with a teenage roommate. Before long, he's on his therapist's couch, head in his hands, trying to figure out how to keep his carefully controlled existence from falling apart. His protégé/partner Frank (Sam Rockwell, goofy as always) is concerned that the new development might disrupt their next big con against a sitting-duck rich guy (Wings Hauser).
Nicolas Cage revels in the chance to be explosive, zany, and manic … a welcome return to his strengths as an actor. He and Rockwell have a wacky, likable chemistry. But the scenes between Cage and the convincingly juvenile Lohman (who is actually 24 years old!) are wonderful—I hated to see them end. Directing this talented cast and casting this story in marvelous color and light, Ridley Scott (
My full review is at Looking Closer.
Steven Isaac (Decent Films) says it "doesn't remotely condone … criminal activity, nor does it portray crime without consequences." He admits, "There's nothing here that we haven't seen before. Yet the acting is uniformly excellent, and, while the climax is easily predictable if one is paying attention, the dénouement is unexpectedly thoughtful and open-ended. The film's biggest surprise isn't any of its twists and turns, but how much we finally care about the characters and their ultimate fates."
"The final scenes … have been criticized by some secular critics," says Michael Elliott (Movie Parables). "For me, it made the film complete. These scenes allow us to see the redemption that is available when we allow love to come into and direct our lives."
David DiCerto (CNS) says the movie "impart[s] a crime-burns-you-in-the-end message. This stance, however, is undermined by … a crime-is-cool attitude."
Similarly, Steven Isaac (Focus on the Family) praises the writing, acting and direction of this criminal's story. But he is disappointed by the film's profanity, cigarette smoke, and other details related to the criminals' uh … criminal behavior.
How can a movie properly portray a criminal, behaving like a criminal, surrounded by criminals, and yet keep the audience from glimpsing any offensive behavior? Should storytellers to edit out glimpses of immoral behavior from stories about redemption?
Elsewhere, frequent faith-and-film blogger Barbara Nicolosi notes: "I found the dark and disturbing last act of the film to be completely irreconciliable in tone to the first two acts which were funny and humane. If you have nothing else to do,
Last week I credited the Decent Films
Heather Mann (Relevant) recommends
On the same page, a reader disagrees: "[The film is] not masquerading as anything … it's intentionally defying convention, which is something we will see more of from moviemakers, musicians, artists in general. And in response, we need to cheer them on for venturing into new territories, rather than demand a categorization of their work."