Friday, July 29, 2011
David Fincher’s Outstanding Neo-Noir thriller
"The Game" is proof and more evidence that Michael Douglas always picks his films with a curious agenda in mind. Like Basic Instinct, The Game is preoccupied with situations in which nothing can be confirmed, in which what is true depends on who you're talking to.
Douglas is an investment banker who's bored with his job until his brother (an amazingly young looking Sean Penn) turns him on to CRS, a recreational company that "brings the vacation to you". In need of a break, Douglas signs up without learning much about CRS, only to discover they've got more resources than he could have ever suspected - they break into his protected home, take over an entire hospital and they seem to have their cronies everywhere. The question throughout that's impossible to verify (at least until the very end) is, are all the obvious attempts on Douglas's life hoaxes, part of the "game," or are they real attempts to shut down his bank account and get him out of the way?
The Game has a dignified history in American film - it reminds me a lot to Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974) starring Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford and Robert Duvall right down to the weird scene with the overflowing toilet. Like The Conversation, The Game's hero has trouble gaining allies or convincing anybody of the conspiracy being mounted against him, because the sadistic conspirators present evidence to him but withdraw it the instant anyone else comes into sight.
Like The Conversation (or innumerable other movies), The Game's protagonist has trouble even explaining what it is, exactly, that's happening, who his enemies are or what they want from him, and this lack of insight makes his story all the less convincing. But The Game puts an captivating, slightly skeptical twist on this age-old theme of paranoia. If you haven’t seen it yet, I can't tell you what it is but the film's wrapping up is truly astounding and worthy of the exceptional buildup that leads to it. It's a twist ending that works, and I hadn't seen one of those in a long time. Watch out for Armin Mueller-Stahl and Deborah Kara Unger!!
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