Saturday, July 10, 2010

"The Limey" (1999) - Movie Review

There is not alone a method to madness in the film making of Steven Soderbergh but a rhythm so unique that telling it aloud about it might sound ridiculous. Soderbergh in “The Limey” brings a foreigner to the stranger land of Los Angeles and lets him speak his thick cockney accent when it is necessary for a sufficiently long time. It becomes comic and an element to the story. Editing by Sarah Flack becomes a crucial factor in the way of film making Soderbergh sets to do. The story is simple, old hard Wilson (Terence Stamp) is from UK and now is in Los Angeles to investigate and avenge the death of his estranged daughter Jenny (Melissa George).

This neo-noir story is nothing but the philosophy of movie making Soderbergh takes up. A man with everything lost has nothing to lose and that holds on right seeing Wilson go about at every one potential enough to lead to the end. The determination is evident and he does not seem like a calm fella but he is and he is not when the time requires it. Terence Stamp has a required face for Wilson to be ruthless and merciless. Even his soft side towards daughter’s acting class friend Elaine (Lesley Ann Warren) comes with a shade of doubt.

He gets friends and he gets by. He has not been a great father. When you are a career criminal, there is not much time you have got outside and his came a while back to make her run away to Los Angeles. After being released from prison, his sadness is deepened and now nothing much is left than to avenge the death of her. The situation is dubious with her sleeping in a car and henceforth crashing it. She is not like him in the territory of being irresponsible. Something is wrong.

He eventually finds the man responsible, Terry Valentine (Peter Fonda). A typical tanned and perfectly combed sleazy record producer is already onto Jenny’s replacement girl friend (Amelia Heinle). He has a trusty obese bodyguard and a right hand man Avery (Barry Newman) and who from the looks of it is out there to do the dirty work for Terry. The smile of Terry is obnoxious. It reeks of mistrust and immediate irritation to punch him for it. Yet there is something magnetic about him to reasonably believe these two beautiful young women falling for him.

It is all about style and it is all about Soderbergh using it with great effectivity. There are flash backs and sounds of other scenes used in it and in the current circumstances. Future events come forth and the sounds of it interlace. In these supposed visual disarray there are no distractions. It is clear as it can be and effective as it should be. Instead of becoming a regular revenge noir story, it turns out to be a skillful execution of a passionate director’s novel idea.

Terence Stamp as such has a vicious and powerful presence. He can be good and can be bad. His roles are such that so far I have seen him in films and in “The Limey” it helps. His softness seems to suggestive and his anger the same. Except for a bloody face after a shoot out and eyes popping out for payback, Stamp’s Wilson is the walk, attire and presence. His moves to attack his enemies are basic but lethal.

I liked “The Limey” for more than the visuals and characters. It has emotions hidden with bread crumbs laid down in the hazy memory of this old man. His closure is not discussed but learned and his deadliness in getting things done is, well, you will see it. He does not blink and does not react for a man of this nature. He keeps it contained and explodes with a proper perimeter. This quality is not predictable but beautiful to watch.

To see a director grow and realize his works are marks of a great one is a pleasure to follow. Unfortunately I did not get to see many of it except for maybe David Fincher and Christopher Nolan. Making “The Limey”, he already made a mark with successful ventures of his and in this entered a realm of new possibilities in genres not limiting him. Now he has made several films with success to some near misses. His last films “The Girlfriend Experience” and “Che” have attained great status in my lists of film and while “The Limey” is not the greatest, it is definitely a Soderbergh-uesque experience to be enjoyed.

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