Sunday, December 24, 2006

Lucky Number Slevin

2006, US, directed by Paul McGuigan

Rating: ***

Although it owes obvious debts to Tarantino and The Usual Suspects, Lucky Number Slevin is still a pleasing jigsaw-puzzle gangster flick, while the eminently guessable resolution isn't a major handicap. Director Paul McGuigan is clearly enjoying himself, using the extreme edges of his widescreen frames so that characters occasionally look as though they're about to bump into the sides of the screen, while the production designers get to have fun with the wacky wallpapers that decorate each interior (and which lend the film a casually retro feel). The pacing is surprisingly slow for this kind of thing: there's a languid atmosphere, in which characters are allowed to take their time to indulge in the telling of tales, but the action, when it occurs, is forceful. Josh Hartnett's face is a little more lived-in, especially around the eyes, than is usually the case (he looks vaguely like Benicio del Toro - though he's a lot more comprehensible than del Toro's character in The Usual Suspects); he, too, reveals his layers slowly, and quite convincingly. Despite the narrative puzzles, the film itself is refreshingly open about its influences - never more so than when Robert Forster pops up, near the conclusion, to reveal the intrigue in Jackie Brown style.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States