Thursday, October 21, 2010

The NetFlix Report: "Changing Lanes".

Getting around to some old movies , courtesy of the NetFlix miracle, and I decided to catch up on a Ben Affleck/Samuel L.Jackson film form more than a few years ago, Changing Lanes.  It thought it was a decent enough Hollywood "message" film, though it had the dopiest premise imaginable. It's not that I object to happy endings -- in this case, each of the characters played by Sam Jackson and Ben Affleck realize the exact nature of their wrongs and wind up doing the right thing by the world and themselves -- it's that I want the fictional solutions to seem fictionally plausible. The concentration of the events into one day snaps credulity, and while you're wondering whether this is an alternative universe where there are 76 hours to a day, the film drags way too much in key areas. 

Jackson and Affleck are both quite good here, but in the crush of the events that are eating our protagonists up, there is too much reflection, too much self examination, too much fortuitous circumstance for the characters to redeem themselves. Irony is fine, but Affleck's pragmatic do-gooding at the end is too much of stretch, theatrical without being dramatic. Like the film as a whole.  

It's a cinch that Affleck, who is having a comeback lately with a growing reputation as a director--the buzz is that he ought to hang acting altogether and stay behind the camera, calling the shots--has spent sometime pouring over this flawed drama and thinking what might have been better. He, and we, are benefiting from his mistakes. 

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