Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One A Week Reviews #43: Mercy

A Love Story rehashing reviewed for boredom beware...


Official Synopsis:
A best-selling novelist (Scott Cann of Ocean's Eleven) one-night stands his way through LA until he finally meets his match with Mercy (beautiful newcomer Wendy Glenn), a book critic who calls his bluff in this powerful romance that Caan wrote, produced and stars in. Featuring Dylan McDermott ("The Practice"), Erika Christensen (Oscar-winning Traffic, TV's "Parenthood") and directed by photographer superstar Patrick Hoelck in his film debut, Mercy is a riveting drama. It's also a memorable moment of cinematic history when rising Hollywood star Scott Caan shares the screen with is legendary father James Caan (The Godfather). Their combustible scene together is the beating heart of this bittersweet look at lost love.

Our Take:
Writers and filmmakers turn to what they know for inspiration. This is why you get so many novels and films about writers and filmmakers. For the layperson, this doesn't always equal access. Stories of tortured artists, frequently insulated by wealth and success, can alienate an audience. Mercy is another example of this. Here, Scott Caan has written himself a character, Johnny Ryan, where he plays a young, successful novelist who runs with a famous crowd, including Kelly Lynch and Balthazar Getty, playing themselves.

Johnny, a slick, successful, promiscuous fireplug of a man, gets taken down a peg or three by Mercy, the type of glib, sparring woman most people only encounter in film. She must, of course, write the only harsh review of his universally lauded new novel, leading him to want to badger her into approving of him, probably out of some selfish need for approval. She's less love object than she is a plot mechanism. As he and his friends are prone to unenlightened navelgazing rants about "love," it tends to make for a long 87 minutes. Their whirlwind courtship, tilted "before," turns to an actor's exercise in "after," as Johnny lashes out because of something clearly telegraphed at the 27 minute mark. He fights, he cries, he rocks a beard symbolizing the changes he's gone through. He also writes some decent scenes for James Caan to sink his teeth into. Always nice to see a seasoned pro at work.

For a film full of charming actors and well-written dialogue, it's kind of surprising just how distant the film feels. It's sumptuously photographed and scored, just distant as a magazine layout. I've always found Scott Caan an engaging, underrated actor, but I just can't cotton to Mercy.

Special Features:
Mercy is presented in Widescreen and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio. The DVD includes subtitles in English and Spanish, Trailers, a deleted scene, and a behind the scenes photo montage.

Scott Caan is a talented writer and actor and Patrick Hoelck is a promising director with a great visual sense. Mercy is gorgeous, but distant. A story of lost love that just didn't engage.

Overall Picture:
Movie: C-
Extras: C+

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