Film Reviews

In Arthur Newman, Colin Firth's Fake Death Isn't That Intriguing

In Arthur Newman, a film about emotional displacement and the universal desire to change our lives, you'll understand why Wallace Avery (Colin Firth) is eager to ditch his and fake a new identity. Fired from a dead-end job, with a divorced-off teenage son he can't relate to, Avery stages an oceanside drowning and takes off in a sporty convertible. Firth's persona is of a nice guy, even a worrier, and his Wallace is set on repairing the mistake he made back when he was a once-promising professional golfer. Will he have the chutzpah to pass himself off as Arthur Newman, golf coach? Some he finds in Michaela (Emily Blunt), a cute but drugged-out klepto he rescues roadside. Traveling from Florida to Terre Haute, Indiana, with its promise of lush putting greens, their car is often the only one on the highway as debut director Dante Ariola sets up the surrealistic central conceit: The couple squat in empty houses and role-play the imagined sex lives of their absentee hosts, their one way to connect romantically. Fun for a bit, things soon turns silly, so it's a relief when the film cuts to Wallace's girlfriend back home, a surprisingly muted, sweet Anne Heche. Wallace's son (Lucas Hedges) finds her in his dad-quest, and their undefined friendship is more intriguing than anything else here.

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Marsha McCreadie