Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Humbling (2014)

Director: Barry Levinson
Writers:  Buck Henry, Philip Roth, Michael Zebede
Cast:       Al Pacino, Greta Gerwig, Dianne Wiest

An aged and addled actor has his world turned upside down after he embarks upon an affair with a lesbian, in this acidulous adaptation of the Philip Roth novel of the same name. The said woman also happens to be the daughter of his friends and he was the Godfather to her. He has a slight suspicion that she could be even his daughter to make matters worse.

Al Pacino plays the weary actor in it with the screen role kind of resonating with his real life career as well. He is someone who has not been in many good films after the turn of the century and unlike his compatriot Robert De Niro, he has not taken the route of being in shitty comedy vehicles either. The film has been described as a comedy but it is far more complex than the normal ones that you expect. It deliberately leads the audience into questioning what all things we see on screen are real. Him skyping with his psychiatrist who expresses these doubts add to the whole thing. So in that sense it is a subversion of the Schizophrenia genre with the twist being that they are indeed real and it is not just happening inside his mind. Sure he does have memory issues and tendency to get spaced out but the characters in it are real or that is how I interpreted the film. Greta Gerwig from the excellent 'Frances Ha' plays the much younger love interest. It is good to see Al Pacino in a meaty role where his post 80s shouting mode is kept to minimum. 

Overall it is a fun watch if you manage to watch with right kind of expectations. To be honest you don't expect much from Pacino-De Niro these days and anything half decent would be a pleasant surprise. 'The Humbling' was more than good and is a welcome twist to the Schizophrenia genre still retaining its ambiguity.  Barry Levinson is famous for directing 'Rain Man' and the only other film I have seen from him is 'Sleepers', which had an ensemble cast consisting of Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Brad Pitt and Kevin Bacon. The former was a great film which I have seen only once and the latter was a half decent film without being that good.

Rating: 3.5/5