I did not think that it would get this complicated,” huffs failing lawyer/high school wrestling coach Paul Giamatti at the climax of Thomas (The Station Agent) McCarthy’s small-town drama. Really? Because the rest of us could see it coming a mile off. More
Sick of doing good deeds for people for so little return – just like a real lawyer, then – Giamatti takes the extraordinary step of putting an Alzheimer’s-afflicted client (Burt Young, the trainer in Rocky, enjoying a spot of stunt casting) in a nursing home and creaming off the care fee for himself. Then Young’s grandson (Shaffer, an expert wrestler) arrives on Giamatti’s doorstep, and complicated isn’t too far behind.
Though Giamatti’s performance is as careful and convincing as ever, and Shaffer makes a realistic (if not particularly appealing) charge, the characters make such unlikely choices it’s hard to care what happens to them. The wrestling metaphors don’t help much either: it’s a sport about inertia, about being trapped under the weight of opposing forces – something Giamatti knows all too well.
To paraphrase Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk, hardly a moralist himself: whatever anyone says, what they end up doing is what they wanted to all along. Apply this to Giamatti and it’s hard to credit – let alone forgive – his choices, complicated or otherwise. The resulting slog is exactly the combination of downbeat and unlikely that gives indie flicks a bad name. Hide