Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Caller

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Langella and Gould Look Lost in Lousy Cat-and-Mouse Caper

Writer/director Richard Leder was lucky enough to land a couple of lead actors of the caliber of Oscar-nominees in Elliot Gould (for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice) and Frank Langella (for Frost Nixon) along with Laura Harring (the fetching femme fatale in Mulholland Dr.) as the love interest only to squander their collective talents in service of a yawner. Don’t be deceived by The Caller’s promising premise which sounds intriguing enough on its face.
Set in New York City, the title character of this lame cat-and-mouse caper is Jimmy Stevens (Langella), the VP of an energy conglomerate which has for years successfully covered up a history of corrupt and malevolent behavior. He’s ostensibly become fed up with the dirty tricks and has decided to turn corporate whistleblower.
Jimmy hands over evidence to the authorities, knowing full well that it’s just a matter of time before his former colleagues figure out that he was the snitch. In the interim, over the phone, he anonymously retains the services of Private Eye Frank Turlotte (Gould) for two weeks to trail the hit man apparently hired to whack him.
But what Frank doesn’t know is that the detailed description he’s just been given matches that of Jimmy, not any contract killer. And exactly why has Jimmy orchestrated such an odd arrangement? Well, that aspect of this elliptical mystery would be unfair to divulge.
Suffice to say that after this intriguing setup, the story unfortunately meanders aimlessly for an hour to explore an assortment of ho-hum sidebars which prove to be red herrings. We meet the females in Jimmy’s life: his mother (Marion Servole), his girlfriend (Harring) and a precocious kid (Anabel Sosa) he rendezvous with daily on a park bench until the director finally puts us out of our misery by pulling a rabbit out of his cinematic hat during the denouement.
A caller you’ll want to put a block on.

Fair (1 star)
In English and French with subtitles.
Running time: 92 minutes
Studio: Olive Press Cinema

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