Multi-hyphenate Livia De Paolis’ directorial debut, Emoticon 😉 (yep, smiley face included), which played Dances With Films last year, opens this week in New York and Los Angeles, via Indican Pictures. For a reset of my previous review, click here; for more information on the film in general, click here to visit its website.
It’s easy to grasp the appeal of a movie like The Grand Seduction from the point-of-view of Taylor Kitsch, and/or his agent. After a well received stint on the popular television version of Friday Night Lights, Kitsch was Hollywood-minted as the Next Big Thing, and cast in a string of high-profile studio projects. Then he watched as his two big screen leading man introductions, John Carter and Battleship, were each delivered stillborn within a couple months of one another. Critically derided, they were two of 2012’s biggest domestic box office flops — a fact that surely made it easier to hand the role of Gambit, a character Kitsch portrayed in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, to Channing Tatum for a stand-alone spin-off movie that will be produced later this year.
So The Grand Seduction sort of represents Kitsch’s Kwai-Chang-Caine/wandering-the-Earth phase, if you will — it was the first film he shot in the wake of the fallout of those aforementioned bombs, prior to reteaming with Peter Berg for Lone Survivor. And it’s an odd, twee, character-based slice of rah-rah community dramedy and uplift in which he doesn’t quite fit. But there’s a passably engaging subtextual layer of intrigue to help pass the time if one mentally squints and endeavors to put themselves in Kitsch’s headspace while he was filming two summers ago — playing a character banished to occupational purgatory against his will. For the full, original review, from Paste, click here. (eOne Entertainment, PG-13, 112 minutes)