Directed by: Scott Frank
Premise: After suffering brain damage in an auto accident, a once promising young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls in with a rough crowd planning to rob the bank he works for.
What Works: The Lookout is a film that manages to straddle several film genres, including recovery and heist stories, and successfully combines them with interesting and well drawn characters. The story is primarily a character study of Chris, a young man struggling with short term memory problems. While moving toward the robbery, the story explores Chris’ scattered memories about the accident, his guilt about it, and his work toward rehabilitation. This is set against the temptation from others, namely Gary (Matthew Goode), a small time hoodlum planning to make a big move by robbing a bank. Goode’s performance is quite strong. The film allows for some ambiguity in his character and Goode takes advantage of that, exuding a kind of charisma that makes him fun to watch but also hints at darker intentions. Whether he genuinely wants to help Chris or is merely using him is kept unclear up until the very end, and the film is able to use that ambiguity to complicate Chris’ allegiances. Jeff Daniels is superb as Chris’ blind roommate. His performance as the witty but learned elder is the kind of dramatic role that Daniels does so well.
What Doesn’t: The Lookout lets some of its B-storylines go unresolved, namely Chris’ relationships with his love interest Luvlee (Isla Fisher) and his parents (Bruce McGill and Alberta Watson). It’s doubly unfortunate since so much of what does appear on screen is so good.
Bottom Line: While not great, The Lookout is good, and a strong directorial debut from Scott Frank, the screenwriter of films like Minority Report and Out of Sight. While the story is interesting, it is the performances that really make the film.
Episode: #136 (April 8, 2007)