Friday, 2 February 2007

For Your Consideration - Review by Carmody Wilson

Director: Christopher Guest
Screenwriters: Christopher Guest & Eugene Levy
Running Time: 86 mins
Certificate: 12A
Released: 9th February

Catherine O’Hara looks like hell. Her hair is limp and splintered with gray, her face is colourless save for where it is liver spotted, and her jaw all but disappears under her middle-age dewlap of a chin. This is O’Hara in the guise of Marilyn Hack, the soft-spoken sweetheart on the set of Home for Purim, a family reunion picture where Hack plays the ailing matriarch. This is the setting for writer/director Christopher Guest’s latest ensemble piece, For Your Consideration. And you can consider it Catherine O’Hara’s picture.

Guest and co-writer/co-star Eugene Levy have crafted another multi-layered, wacky world populated with idiosyncratic and egocentric characters, this time on a Hollywood film set. Home for Purim is a saccharine holiday flick starring Hack, (O’Hara,) Victor Allan Miller (Harry Shearer,) Callie Webb, (Parker Posey) and Brian Chubb (Christopher Moynihan). When a production assistant mentions to Hack that there are rumors circulating about her possible Oscar nomination for her performance, the set goes into a tailspin of speculation, gossip, backstabbing and the like. O’Hara herself is a marvel of quiet composure as Hack, a woman out of her depth in the glimmer glammer that is Hollywoodland, Harry Shearer is game as the never-was Miller, and there are several fun performances by the huge cast of Guest regulars, but For Your Consideration doesn’t really “get there.”

There is a lot of subtle hamming (Posey’s performance comes to mind,) and a good deal of understated comedy, but the ensemble seems tired, the same faces pulling in off-beat performances and exercising their improve chops. Fred Willard is his usual outrageous self, playing the stupid old fart that he played to bigger laughs in Best in Show and other Guest vehicles, and Ed Begely Jr appears as an over-the-top hairdresser, camping it up after his straight performance in A Mighty Wind. The feeling is that everybody has such a great time on the set that they forgot to move the story along and now just have to finish it in time for editing. For Your Consideration is indulgent rather than revolutionary, and we’ve seen it all before. The one standout is O’Hara, who in spite of all the self-conscious performances around her, manages to emerge as a subtle comedienne with all the powers of her craft at her beck and call. Too bad about the rest of the cast.

For Your Consideration needs better direction. If the cast was reigned in and the story more streamlined the ending would not have felt so rushed nor the second act so sidebar. The hurdy-gurdy rush that came from including entertainment shows, special guest appearances and critic’s panels adds a nice momentum to the movie, but ultimately it seems as underdone as last Purim’s gefeltefish. There is great possibility here, but there needs to be a stronger force at the helm for the chemistry of the stars to work as well as it did in other Guest projects. Rob Reiner, are you listening? Be my guest.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Catherine O'Hara was truly the star of the show but perhaps you were a bit harsh on the other actors. I do agree that the plot didn't gel as it has in past Guest projects.