Sunday, May 01, 2011

"Handsome Harry" (2009) - Movie Review

Before we go any further into the review of “Handsome Harry”, can I say how majestically handsome Jamey Sheridan is? No wonder they picked the man for the titular role of this smooth and classy film directed by Bette Gordon. It has a rare nature as the several scotches and wines the characters sip in the film. You know how it is going to taste but it is the joy of sipping it for real makes it something unique in this common occurrence.

Harry Sweeney is living in a small town and gets a call from an old navy buddy after thirty years he comfortably forgot. Tommy Kelly (Steve Buscemi) is dying and he needs to speak with Harry about the horrible night where the two along with their friends in the navy did to a guy named David Kagan. Harry begins his journey to meet his navy buddies who were there during that night nearly killing a man. This will be his search for forgiveness and you know where it all leads to. Nothing surprising out here yet there are actors and the mood Bette Gordon sets that goes like a smooth drink.

Harry played by Jamey Sheridan is unquestionably magnetic. Looking like a stallion he commands an upper hand even before he speaks but he is a regular man with regular moves and regular regrets. He begins meeting his friends and in that drunken night of hate and rage he questions who threw the armature on David’s arm and crush it. The night they want to forget gets a visitation for real and outside of their mind. This blast from the past is not a happy reunion.

Soon we learn the obvious nature of the act they bestowed upon the poor man. David made a pass on Harry and evil birthed upon him through this mob. I can still remember a dark incident from my past that involved similar situation and bunch of kids having no idea other than getting an opportunity to show their bravado beat a confused kid. I will be honest and say that I was disgusted about the kid to make a move on a guy but somewhere in that time I knew that the kid did not deserve that and now this film brings up those crazy past. Everyone has grown out of it and I cannot honestly say what they think about it but I can only be thankful that the kid did not get hurt as bad as David in the film. Rage and hate are such a violent thing that the damage of it can never be undone. Whatever the life everyone would lead that incident would be there and nothing can be done about it. Life still though goes on. Harry’s life and other’s did go on. Harry is a divorced man with a son he cannot talk openly to. Life does go on.

Harry visits Peter Rheems (John Savage) who instantly remembers Harry and is so excited and cannot wait to boast his success to him. He invites Harry to his new home with his wife Judy (Mariann Mayberry). There they share a drink and a memory. Peter tells the time they went to Acropolis and how several years back he went there again. He says how he began to think “Me now and Me then” and that part is one hell of a scene performed by John Savage with a nostalgia and decades of regret, pain and forgotten dreams in small sentences written by Nicholas T. Proferes.

Harry then visits William Porter (Aidan Quinn) a professor who has erased that past he served in the navy and denies any claims of that life he lived. Harry begs for twenty minutes and at the end of it William asks whether he wants to come for dinner and Harry replies that it appears twenty minutes is the life span of these reunions. He then sets off to meet Gebhardt (Titus Welliver) who is a born again Christian trying to forgive. He is too wise to know that the talk Harry is expecting and takes him to a golf course than a drink in his house. Their conversation reveals little bit more into the state of Harry. “Handsome Harry” has these one off sudden lines and mystic that brings past like a delicious rum. I keep referring this film to the sweet bitter taste of alcohol and you will understand once you see it.

Despite some wonderful acting, writing and the mood, the film does not go for the skyline. But this is the kind of film that would have been drowned into chaos with such an attempt and I can see the path Bette Gordon took. Seeing this I remember one of my favourite films “Broken Flowers” by Jim Jarmusch with Bill Murray trying to find the woman who mailed him a letter informing that he has a son and how his journey goes to the serious relationships he had in his womanizing life. There it was more about the enigmatic, funny and profound settings of the director and the end that made a strange emotion to its viewer. In “Handsome Harry” there is the open suspense of how Harry sees his life and the lies he decided to live upon. The end is polishing and suave. And I had nothing much more expected from this film yet there is a yearning. May be I was subconsciously expecting more from a film that knows its characters and the ambience. Either way check out the shining men reliving their dreaded past through handsome Harry.

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