Tuesday 2 November 2010

Movie Review: Handsome Harry

With a budget of merely one million dollars, this has to be the "smallest" film of the year. However the story and the acting all add up to a unique atmosphere that best captures a small town, its non descript people and the unusual personal tale of one of their own.

Our central character Handsome Harry, played by James Sheridan is ready to retire, living an easy, somewhat happy if maybe slightly superficial life with the other townsfolk. This is interrupted with a call from his past that takes him out on the road to meet old Navy comrades he hasn't seen in 30 years and confront a part of his past which certainly makes him question the choices he's made. Like the size of the film, the story is just one of many small stories which exist in the world; one man's personal retelling of his youth and a mistake for which he and another has paid dearly.

Without giving a spoiler alert, the film tells in flashbacks the story of the military, a group of good old boys and a gay bashing incident. This is tied to the present as an overall story of unfulfilled love and missed opportunities.

As I go down the list of people involved in this film, I admit to only recognizing the names of actor Steve Buscemi and Aidan Quinn who both only have secondary roles. I do recognize the face of James Sheridan, the star but didn't know his name. Nevertheless, in looking up Mr. Sheridan, I find he has had a busy career which explains why I recognized him. I mention this as how the film is a small, low budget and out of the way production which many are going to overlook. Too bad; there's a lot of talent here.

The film's writer, Nicholas T. Proferes is a busy man. He has been Professor of Film at Columbia University for the past 20 years as well as being involved in film making in many roles: cinematographer, editor, producer and writer. On top of it all, he has found the time to write a couple of books on film directing. This opus shows him to have a deft touch with the pen.

Bette Gordon, the director is not a particularly active director. Her previous film was done in 2000 and before that, 1987. Based in New York, she is apparently noted for feminist-oriented independent films.

I return to the budget of only one million dollars. Compared to the other films I have looked at this year, I can't think of any film that had such a small budget. Obviously nobody got rich working on this project. Even Easy A, another "small" picture had a budget of $8 million. Rumour had it that Angelina Jolie was paid $20 million to do the film Salt and the budget of that film was pegged at $110 million. Wow.

Rotten Tomatoes has ranked the film at 80%. While not a perfect film, Handsome Harry is a good film and far better than many which have had monster budgets in comparison. Well worth a look.


Rotten Tomatoes: Handsome Harry: 80%

Wikipedia: Handsome Harry

official movie web site


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