Film Review: The Lookalike

Handsomely shot, convoluted and defiantly sordid, 'The Lookalike' sends its large cast of grifters, lost souls, schemers and dreamers careening around the streets of New Orleans in pursuit of happiness.

Comfortably middle-aged gangster Bobby (John Corbett) and his partner Frank (Steven Bauer) are setting up a big cocaine buy with the help of deeply damaged Sadie (Gillian Jacobs), whose part in the plan involves sleeping with drug kingpin William Spinks (a raddled-looking John Savage), a former business associate of her late father and the man who molested her as a child. But Sadie is accidentally killed by a falling chandelier–a hazard in Crescent City, U.S. capital of decaying grandeur–and the search is on for a double, a dead ringer for Sadie, whose signature look–a long, bleached-blonde bob and heavily mascaraed raccoon eyes–is relatively easy to fake, given the availability of skinny, desperate girls in their early 20s and skinny girls in their early 20s with desperate boyfriends, relatives or other individuals to whom they have significant emotional ties.

And that turns out to be a good chunk of New Orleans, especially after you add in sundry friends, acquaintances and bystanders who get sucked into the ever-expanding tarn whose epicenter is a metal briefcase belonging to Spinks, including but not limited to former college basketball star and reluctant dealer Joe Mulligan, who wants to star in his own TV cooking show (Jerry O’Connell); Joe's terminal screw-up of a younger brother, Holt (Justin Long); Holt's kinda, sorta new girlfriend, aspiring actress and undercover snitch Lacey (also Jacobs), the titular lookalike; a scary enforcer (Luis Guzmán) with a harlequin Great Dane; no-nonsense cop Garner (Gina Gershon); and Mila (Scottie Thompson), a smart, beautiful deaf woman with only one leg.
On the plus side, The Lookalike is never dull. Even if the sleazy, twisty goings-on aren't always inherently interesting, there are an awful lot of them and the action is like the weather in New England: If you don't care for it, you only have to wait a few minutes for it to change. The downside to the frantic pace and varied cast of characters is that it's tough to care much about most of them–even the stars don't get much screen time to make a case for decent hearts beating beneath compromised exteriors, though O'Connell and Thompson succeed admirably. Fans of neo-noir thrillers could do worse than to give The Lookalike a look.

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