The Lookout

October 21, 2007


RELEASED: 26th October

About once a year, America produces a low-budget indie, or perhaps a low-budget studio film with an indie feel, that becomes a modern classic. Three years ago, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Sideways shared the honour. The year after it was the massively overlooked Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Last year, it was Brick, the stunning, hyper-cool teen noir. And this year, it’s The Lookout.  


Interestingly enough, Brick and The Lookout share the same leading man. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Chris Pratt, a once extremely promising high school hockey player until a horrific car crash leaves him with memory loss – he can remember anything before the accident, but only bits and pieces from afterwards. He now shares an apartment with the charming Lewis (Jeff Daniels), who’s visually impaired, and is educated at a special centre. He also has a job as a night janitor at a small bank in a remote Kansas town. One night, however, at the local Chris regulars in an attempt to normalise, he meets Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode), a charismatic old school colleague, who seems quite intrigued by Chris. And from here a friendship starts, one that gets continually more dangerous as Gary reveals himself to be a criminal, and is planning to rob a bank. In fact, the very bank Chris works at. And, of course, Chris is needed to help out with the job.Chris is now faced with a serious dilemma. Having struggled through life over the last four years, he desperately needs something to release him from the perpetual state of frustration, confusion and regret. “Sometimes I cry, for no reason,” he states in his beautifully judged voice-over. All he wants is his life back the way it was, and Gary’s promises of going someway to a release from the mental imprisonment his accident has caused are enticing. Most importantly, he can give him power, possibly the thing that his life now lacks the most. His very wealthy father, played by Bruce McGill, pays for most of his life, as Gary explains in detail, and however unhappy about it Chris may be, what currently can he do about it? Yet another problem is that Luvlee (Isla Fisher), a friend of Gary’s, has fallen for Chris. He cannot resist her (frankly, which red-blooded male could?), and it leads him deeper into Gary’s own stranglehold of power.

Scott Frank, writer of Get Shorty and Out Of Sight and co-screenwriter of Minority Report, has made a stunning directorial debut. The screenplay is a masterpiece of storytelling and character building. Chris is our hero, but, like Leonard Shelby in Christopher Nolan’s groundbreaking Memento, he is one that through lack of memory can make a bad decision or a big mistake inadvertently. They are both deeply flawed characters, having to rely on other people’s trust and honesty. Even more interesting is that the seemingly only innocent party, the one person Chris can, and does, depend on, is Lewis. Blind he may be, but it’s as though his other senses have made up the deficit. Chris may be powerless against Gary’s seductive charms and Luvlee’s affections, but Lewis is the voice of reason within his broken mind.

Giving away much more would spoil arguably the best film of the year so far. Frank’s writing is impeccable, his direction superb, and the acting is exemplary. Gordon-Levitt, excellent in Brick, has proved himself to be the most effective, understated young actor around. And yet the supporting actors nearly eclipse him: the classically trained British Goode, previously seen in Woody Allen’s Match Point, is astounding as Gary. His accent never falters, and he injects raw, electrifying charisma into every scene. Daniels, the most underrated actor of his, or perhaps any other, generation is simply magnificent, and Fisher avoids the typical femme fatale role to produce a remarkably mature performance.

An intelligent crime-thriller, original and intense, The Lookout should absolutely not be missed.


5 / 5  forgetful blunders


One Response to “The Lookout”

  1. Ben Travis said

    “The year after it was the massively overlooked Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”

    I just bought kiss kiss bang bang.
    i shall be watching it soon. I’ve been trying to build up my DVD collection, so that when i go to uni I’ll have millions of DVDs to watch.
    i got jurassic park for £2

    good review by the way

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