Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Answers to Nothing

An overlong bunch of intertwining stories, none of which is worth the viewer’s time.

Dec 1, 2011

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1295558-Answers_Nothing_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

We’re in serious Crash/Magnolia/Short Cuts territory with Answers to Nothing, as writer-director Matthew Leutwyler concocts one of those interwoven webs of disparate Los Angeles lives. A little girl has gone missing, and among the various suspects police detective Frankie (Julie Benz) has her eye on is a weird schoolteacher, Carter (Mark Kelly), into fantasy online gaming, who points the finger at his neighbor, Beckworth (Greg Germann). Another neighbor, Jerry (Erik Palladino), who is training to be a cop, also gets involved.

Ryan (Dane Cook) is a therapist, unhappily married to Kate (Elizabeth Mitchell), who yearns for a child and is unaware of hubby’s affair with musician Tara (Aja Volkman). Ryan’s mother (Barbara Hershey) adds more to his plate with her issues involving his father, who deserted her. Ryan’s client Allegra (Kali Hawk) writes for television and, although African-American, hates black people, something she tells a shocked new romantic interest (Zach Gilford). Then there’s Drew (Miranda Bailey), a recovering alcoholic fighting a custody battle over her brother (Vincent Ventresca), brain-dead after an accident in which she was involved.

Got all that? This plethora of characters may make you yearn for the good old days of Grand Hotel, when such a conglomeration was easier to keep track of, not to mention a helluva lot more alluring. Such is Leutwyler’s strained direction, which suffers from every handheld, desaturated-color-palette, woozily indulgent crime of indie cinema, and his forced, simplistic writing, that you watch all these confused folk in a state of complete detachment. You leave each character with a certain relief, which is only replaced by the dread of encountering the next one’s dreary, unoriginal problems. And by this point there really should be a ban on missing-child plot devices. It’s so tired and shamefully easy; almost as if to prove the point, Leutwyler doesn’t ever show the poor, lost kid—even at the end, when she is rescued.

The material is so monotonously shoddy that the actors—including Hershey, who is so face-lifted that she looks more like Cook’s younger sister than his mother—sink without a trace, despite all their sweating and screaming. After being fellated by Tara, Ryan asks her to spit out his sperm, so he can surreptitiously take it to his baby doctor. It’s sick, outrageous and kind of funny, the very thing you’d expect from Cook, but the fact remains that this comedic wild man is singularly unconvincing playing a therapist, of all things. Leutwyler likes to go for facile shock, like the character of Allegra, whatever the hell we are supposed to make of her. Allegra’s hang-up is a risky idea to begin with, but—like so much else here—Leutwyler seems incapable of properly delineating or developing it, and will likely offend many.


Film Review: Answers to Nothing

An overlong bunch of intertwining stories, none of which is worth the viewer’s time.

Dec 1, 2011

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1295558-Answers_Nothing_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

We’re in serious Crash/Magnolia/Short Cuts territory with Answers to Nothing, as writer-director Matthew Leutwyler concocts one of those interwoven webs of disparate Los Angeles lives. A little girl has gone missing, and among the various suspects police detective Frankie (Julie Benz) has her eye on is a weird schoolteacher, Carter (Mark Kelly), into fantasy online gaming, who points the finger at his neighbor, Beckworth (Greg Germann). Another neighbor, Jerry (Erik Palladino), who is training to be a cop, also gets involved.

Ryan (Dane Cook) is a therapist, unhappily married to Kate (Elizabeth Mitchell), who yearns for a child and is unaware of hubby’s affair with musician Tara (Aja Volkman). Ryan’s mother (Barbara Hershey) adds more to his plate with her issues involving his father, who deserted her. Ryan’s client Allegra (Kali Hawk) writes for television and, although African-American, hates black people, something she tells a shocked new romantic interest (Zach Gilford). Then there’s Drew (Miranda Bailey), a recovering alcoholic fighting a custody battle over her brother (Vincent Ventresca), brain-dead after an accident in which she was involved.

Got all that? This plethora of characters may make you yearn for the good old days of Grand Hotel, when such a conglomeration was easier to keep track of, not to mention a helluva lot more alluring. Such is Leutwyler’s strained direction, which suffers from every handheld, desaturated-color-palette, woozily indulgent crime of indie cinema, and his forced, simplistic writing, that you watch all these confused folk in a state of complete detachment. You leave each character with a certain relief, which is only replaced by the dread of encountering the next one’s dreary, unoriginal problems. And by this point there really should be a ban on missing-child plot devices. It’s so tired and shamefully easy; almost as if to prove the point, Leutwyler doesn’t ever show the poor, lost kid—even at the end, when she is rescued.

The material is so monotonously shoddy that the actors—including Hershey, who is so face-lifted that she looks more like Cook’s younger sister than his mother—sink without a trace, despite all their sweating and screaming. After being fellated by Tara, Ryan asks her to spit out his sperm, so he can surreptitiously take it to his baby doctor. It’s sick, outrageous and kind of funny, the very thing you’d expect from Cook, but the fact remains that this comedic wild man is singularly unconvincing playing a therapist, of all things. Leutwyler likes to go for facile shock, like the character of Allegra, whatever the hell we are supposed to make of her. Allegra’s hang-up is a risky idea to begin with, but—like so much else here—Leutwyler seems incapable of properly delineating or developing it, and will likely offend many.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Sagrada
Film Review: Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation

The fabulous 130-year work-in-progress that is Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral, as well as its crazy-brilliant originator, Antonio Gaudi, is the focus of this vividly informative documentary. More »

Inside the Mind of Leonardo
Film Review: Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D

Documentary-feature hybrid that offers unexpected insight into the world of Leonardo da Vinci, but nonetheless suffers from a heavy hand and pretentious sensibility. More »

If You Don't., I Will
Film Review: If You Don't, I Will

Anemic drama about a forever-bickering couple who do not at all get along nor emit a scintilla of chemistry. It’s a disappointing, too-lean portrait of a marriage. More »

Mr. Turner
Film Review: Mr. Turner

In Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, arguably the year’s most gorgeous film, Timothy Spall etches an indelible portrait of the great painter, aided by a marvelous supporting cast who make the period spring alive. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Annie review
Film Review: Annie

Here’s an updated Annie for today’s entitled, tech-savvy and racially diverse generation of tweens who can easily relate to the new Annie’s love of luxurious toys. Their parents and other adults may miss the sweet innocence of the original, but they won’t be entirely bored by this frenetic new version of her classic story. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here