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  Manglehorn For The Love Of Fanny
Year: 2014
Director: David Gordon Green
Stars: Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Chris Messina, Harmony Korine, Natalie Wilemon, June Griffin Garcia, Rebecca Franchione, Ted Ferguson, Lara Shah, Kristin M. Miller, Jenee' Amore', Edrick Browne, Luis Olmeda, Elizabeth Lestina, Arthur Bryan
Genre: Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: A.J. Manglehorn (Al Pacino) is an ageing locksmith who really only has his cat Fanny for company, and recently she has been having trouble in that she is reluctant to eat anything, yet he doesn’t know why. He does interact with people through his day to day to day life, either at work where he helps customers locked out of their cars for instance, or at the diners where he eats where he chats with his fellow consumers, but nobody particularly connects with him, he is drifting through with very little making an impression. The reason for this is a long lost love, Clara, who he still writes letters to, asking her to come back to him but he never receives any replies, and this has broken his heart...

Director David Gordon Green's odd career could be summed up between veering around serious, carefully arranged drama and lowbrow comedy, and Manglehorn was one of the former, bringing him together with acting legend Pacino to essay the role of a man in his autumn years facing loneliness that is in his ability to correct and soothe, if only he had the gumption to stop dwelling in the past and in spite of the relatively short time he has left, move forward and make the most of the rest of his life. All well and good, but Green and his screenwriter Paul Logan assembled it so preciously that any reasonable viewer would be driven up the wall by its relentless quirks long before the end credits rolled.

If the reports were true, this would have been even more eccentric in its original incarnation, a more magic realist concept that we have a hint of right at the end of the movie. As it was, taking all the weirdness out and leaving a sense that something was missing was maybe not such a good idea, because what you were left with was a story where you never felt as if you were getting the big picture. For example, the issues with his yuppie son (Chris Messina) were vague and we never find out the backstory with Clara, what was so special about her, why she broke it off with the protagonist, even if finally, she is still alive, and that sets you off wondering all sorts of grim thoughts about Manglehorn wracked with guilt possibly because he has murdered her.

Late on when his back room devoted to the woman is revealed, it tends to have one remember all those psycho killer movies where the mad stalker exhibited his mania by plastering the walls with photographs of the object of his obsession, which was jarring for what appeared on the surface to be a romantic drama of a gentle kind, but the further you get into it the more nutzoid that melancholy old man comes across, especially when Green insisted on playing his rambling thoughts over too many scenes to the point of distraction. There was a woman in his life who offers a ray of sunshine, and she is the bank teller he sees every week Dawn (Holly Hunter), who likes their chats and thinks she could maybe go further with them, because if visiting a bank has you thinking anything, it's romantic connections with the person serving you, right?

Okay, maybe not, but we could forgive that as artistic licence, yet what we could not forgive was the manner in which Manglehorn was so wrapped up in himself that any resemblance between him and a real person was purely coincidental. Take the date he and Dawn go on, which he manages to ruin by burbling on about Clara and how no woman will ever match up to her - Dawn walks out after five minutes of this insensitivity, which brings up another irritation, as this was yet another American film where characters never finished their meals. There are people starving in Africa and yet these actors are so blasé about food as to not bother polishing off their repasts, ending up scraping the plentiful leftovers into the nearest bin. Anyway, throw in a pointless reference to Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend car wreck, Harmony Korine gabbling as the man who wants Manglehorn's custom in his massage parlour cum brothel, closeup shots of cat intestine surgery, and a mime central to the plot, and you had a film that would send most people screaming for the hills. Music by Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo.

[The Curzon Blu-ray has an interview with the cast as an extra.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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David Gordon Green  (1975 - )

American indie director with a strong visual sense. Film school graduate Green made a big impression with his debut film, the powerful drama George Washington, while 2003's All the Real Girls was similarly well-received. An unexpected change of pace appeared when he directed stoner comedy Pineapple Express, the largest success of his career to that point, following it up with the widely reviled Your Highness. In contrast, the acclaimed Joe represented a return to his indie drama roots. After a lot of series television, he enjoyed his biggest hit with the 2018 Halloween sequel.

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