Norman Oppenheimer is a small time operator who befriends a young politician at a low point in his life. Three years later, when the politician becomes an influential world leader, Norman's life dramatically changes for better and worse.
Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play a long-married, dispassionate couple who are both in the midst of serious affairs. But on the brink of calling it quits, a spark between them suddenly reignites, leading them into an impulsive romance.
The author Max Zorn, now in his early 60s, is on a promotional book tour in New York when he meets up again with the woman he could never forget. They spend a weekend together. 17 years have passed. Can there be a future for their past?
The opening visuals of this film include pans of great trees barren in the winter with a pale sky overhead, accompanied by an ominous soundtrack and displays of exotic meals you can't name let alone ever have a chance to ingest yourself.
And thus the 'table is set' for two families forever derailed by their grossly immature and entitled son's violent murder of a homeless woman, and the video to prove it.
A formal dinner is arranged at an exclusive restaurant between the two couples in hope of a resolution that seems doomed from the start.
And it pretty much is.
The central character of the story, you would think, would be Richard Gere's Stan Lohman, a successful politician on the verge of running for Mayor. But the bulk of the attention quickly shifts to his brother Paul (Steve Coogan).
Paul, we learn, has had a lifetime of mental issues. He doesn't exactly babble incoherently, but he is acutely focused on deeper observations of the human experience through the lens of history that others quickly dismiss as simple madness.
And this is where the story seems to lose it focus, though not completely.
You might begin to wonder to yourself at times where exactly this story is headed. Is it about the boy's crimes? Their parent's attempt to deal with it? -Or Paul's borderline insanity and his preoccupation with the American Civil War, particularly the battle for Gettysburg.
Aside from that, we are treated to the vapid attitudes of the rich and privileged when it comes to protecting their children from themselves.
Stan, on one hand, seems resolute on turning his own son over to the authorities to avoid being exposed in a cover up. But Stan's intentions are hard to plumb.
Is he really trying to do the right thing? Or is it all to save his own political career? Doesn't really matter, because his efforts are quickly annihilated by his own wife's and sister-in-law's stead-fast position of burying the situation at all costs.
Stan's wife in particular deludes herself to a sickening degree by blaming the poor homeless woman for her own death. It's a hard bit to stomach.
As the discussion soldiers on, Paul frequently leaves the table to ruminate on his own son, sharply aware that his offspring has probably inherited a level or two of his own madness.
Yet Paul's point of contention seems to be of a well-intentioned but failed idealist, while his son's condition reeks of glee-full anti-social depravity.
The ending is anything but tidy when Paul commits to his own act of savagery.
A very interesting film to be enjoyed by thinking people, but a production that is jumbled and a little rocky to get through for everybody else.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?