By Richard Reitzfeld
Having gone into Arthur Newman blind, the first aspect of the film that struck me was Colin Firth’s superb American accent. I’m a huge Firth-o-phile, and seeing the one-time king of England slum it up as an American nobody was incredibly tickling. All of the acting in this movie was excellent; each role played pitch-perfectly. Unfortunately, the excellent cast only veils the mediocrity of the plot for so long.
The story centers on Colin Firth, a depressed man who is unsatisfied with his boring life. He decides to leave his ex-wife, child, and mistress behind without a word to them and assumes the identity of Arthur Newman, a golf pro. He packs up and leaves for Indiana, where apparently he has a job as a golf instructor waiting for him based on a chance interaction he once had at a golf course in which he assisted the owner of the Indiana-based golf course with his swing.
Along the way he encounters Mike, played by Emily Blunt, who happens to be on the run from an equally unfulfilling life. He saves her when she’s OD’d on cough syrup or something lame like that, and the two start to form a bond. We learn that Mike is an alias as well (shocking), and the two embark on a bizarre and depraved road trip in which they get off on the idea of assuming false identities.
They break into people’s houses, don their clothing and have sex in their beds lost in typical indie old guy/young girl ecstasy. Upon reaching their destination, it is revealed that the man who offered Arthur a job did what any normal person would do and googled the man he’d offered a job to in order to ensure his legitimacy. Or that he’s not like a pedo or something.
Anyhow, there is no record of Arthur Newman having been a golf pro, and poor Firth is laughed away. The two realize that what they’ve been up to is sick and they decide to go back to their lives and face the problems they’ve been running from.
Like I said, the acting in this movie is so good that it almost makes you feel like it’s about something. And really, that is high praise, because this is one of the more pointless films I’ve ever seen. It’s an attempt at a quirky and offbeat dark comedy with a trite message of morality that feels more like a lecture than something profound. But for whatever reason, it garnered the attention of a dynamite cast, so what do I know?
I will say though, seeing the Firth man get horizontal with a babe like Emily Blunt put a smile on my face. It was a departure from his usual role in romantic comedies as the charmingly intelligent-but-awkward good guy. We got to see his naughty side. And the dynamic between the two characters feels entirely real. So yeah, good work, actors. Writers, maybe next time?
Cast: Colin Firth, Emily Blunt
Director: Dante Ariola
Runtime: 101 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Drama