By Ashley Smith
Like the contemporary hits Memento and Mulholland Drive, films dealing with a main character who struggles with memory loss and falls into a dangerous situation seem to be a safe bet for a good plot. Scott Frank, screenwriter for The Interpreter and Minority Report, continues this rising trend with his directorial debut in The Lookout, putting a new twist on the general plot with a talented cast of fresh, young faces.
The Lookout tells the story of Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an athletic, wealthy and idolized high school student who suffers a brain injury after a car accident. Chris is struggling with his new circumstances when he meets Gary (Matthew Goode) at a local bar.
Through his new friendship with Gary, Chris seems to be on the path to getting his old life back; he even has a new girlfriend, Luvlee, played by Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers). Things finally seem to be looking up for Chris, that is until he realizes that Gary is drawing him into a scheme to rob the bank by which he is employed.
Gordon-Levitt (Brick) fits well in the title role, bringing to life a believable and charismatic Chris with whom viewers will be sure to sympathize. Gordon-Levitt’s performance is unfaltering. He
completely immerses himself in the character, continuously exudes an immense talent and is definitely someone to look out for in the future. This humble style and complete dedication grasps viewers and maintains their attention throughout the film, whether they are watching Chris searching for a can opener or planning a heist.
Goode proves himself a more versatile actor in the film, breaking away from the continuous flow of “good guy” roles that has filled his career in films such as Match Point and Imagine Me and You. Goode, a devious criminal with a sweet face, produces a character who will both engage and unnerve viewers.
The film also features well-known actor Jeff Daniels (The Squid and the Whale) in the role of Lewis, Chris’ older roommate and close friend. Despite the amount of experience that Daniels brings to the role, his character still only functions to add in a few plot twists and filter in facets of Chris’ character.
Director Scott Frank also works as the film’s writer, bringing his knack for thriller and suspense plots to the story line. This film is a knockout coming from a first-time director. Through the clever use of filming techniques and cinematic style, Frank’s directorial approach helps to
enliven the story in a way that can be appreciated by both viewers with a background in cinema and the average moviegoer.
At times the film borders on being yet another all-too-trite teen drama; the romance between Luvlee and Chris is quite lackluster, suggesting that Fischer may be better off in teen comedies than more serious dramas.
In addition, Frank also experiments with dream sequences that are completely out of place and which the film could function much better without. Despite these flaws The Lookout manages to save itself with a few clever plot twists and strong performances from Gordon-Levitt and Goode combined with Frank’s overall technique.
The Lookout is a wonderful showcase for the talent of its young actors and debuting director. Though the film does take some risks with casting and technique it is sure to be a hit with audiences overall. The Lookout is undoubtedly a great film worth keeping an eye out for.