Directed by: Shane Black – Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Keith David, Kim Basinger
Russell Crowe takes himself very seriously. Well, if all the reports and his movie-making record are to be believed he does. So I was rather surprised to discover that he was trying his hand at comedy in this offering, which sees him paired with Ryan Gosling.
It’s 1977, and Gosling is P.I. Holland March, who is hired by an elderly woman convinced that she has seen her dead porn-star niece. She wants answers, and although sceptical, the less-than-ethical Holland takes the case (and her money).
He realises that a missing girl named Amelia may hold the answer to what the old lady saw, and goes in search of her. However, Amelia REALLY doesn’t want to be found, and hires “enforcer” Jackson Healy (Crowe) to ensure Holland gets the message.
After fulfilling his contract, he thinks no more of it, until a pair of heavies show up at his apartment also looking for Amelia. Realising that he has been drawn into something far more sinister than he imagined, he is forced to team up with Holland to try and find Amelia, and get to the bottom of why so many people seem to want her dead.
From the off, you get the feeling that this is going to be good fun. The whole look of the movie is the worst – and by default the funniest – of the 70s. Nothing is too brown, too tacky or too loud. Think that 70s Show and you get the idea.
Gosling plays Holland totally straight, which only adds to the hilarity, and although the character is essentially a shallow narcissist, he does manage to imbue him with some depth. Young Australian actress Rice as his daughter, Holly, is fantastic, and gives a performance that belies her tender age. However, it is Crowe who is the real revelation here. Usually full of scene-stealing bluster, here he appears almost happy not to take himself too seriously, and he doesn’t try to upstage his co-stars. That said, he is still playing a gravelly-voiced hardman, as in so many other roles, but he seems somewhat more relaxed, and it suits him. He and Gosling make a great double act, and it would be wonderful to see more of them.
Of course, none of this would matter if the script wasn’t peppered with a knowingness that lifts it above pastiche, and turns it into a kind of post-modern film noir. Extremely funny, the humour isn’t in your face, and rather is organically integrated into the story for the most part.
Silly without being shallow, and funny without being forced, this is an extremely entertaining and enjoyable film. A throwback to the classic buddy comedies, such as 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon, it is laugh-out-loud, and will leave you with a smile on your face. It could even lend itself to a sequel. Watch this space.
In Cinemas Now!