The premise of this movie seemed interesting enough for me to give it a try. The story revolves around Caleb, a misogynist construction worker in a small town. His younger brother Peter just got his first "serious" girlfriend, which he is bringing for Thanksgiving to their dad's.
Adam Scott was an unknown to me but is absolutely amazing in the role of Caleb. He conveys all the suffering in this character on the inside, with all the aggressiveness on the outside. Caleb is fueled by hatred and negativity but the writing and direction of Lee Toland Krieger, and the performance by Scott suggest that if this hatred is explicitly directed at others, it is implicitly self-hatred.
Caleb is estranged from his father for reasons we learn about through the movie and his relationship with his naive brother is uneasy at best. The gap separating them is the very different outlook they have on life and love. Peter is more of an idealist while Caleb is on the slippery slope of fatalism.
Neither of them seems to be able to see the complete picture and their father Donald Sinclaire might have something to do with this. Donald is the prototypical dad figure. Doesn't talk much and prefers to address superficialities when he does. A scene that particularly highlight this is a dinner scene between him, Peter and his girlfriend Emma. While Donald can't stop complimenting Emma on her looks, Peter at some point shifts to her academic background, which seems to put the father outside his comfort zone. Veteran actor J.K. Simmons puts another great performance as the father, a great casting choice.
The last piece of the puzzle is the outsider who crashes in this family at such a critical point. Emma is Peter's new girlfriend and while it would have been easy to make this character little more than a plot device, she has several interesting layers to her. What we know from the start about her is that she is smart, polite, beautiful and herself comes from a less than perfect family (there is talk of alcoholism). More importantly perhaps, she dumped someone for Peter, which further fuels Caleb's belief that "all women are whores" as he likes to say. I had no idea who Brittany Snow was but I was blown away by her performance as Emma. Looking at her credit list afterwards, I would never have expected that.
The story mixes all the things you'd expect from an indie. Humor (mostly dark) is there, the main characters are quirky and the peripheral characters even more so. The camera-work, editing and music all ooze of this "indie feel". If anything, this hurts this heartfelt film more than it helps. Lee Toland Krieger obviously wrote a great and heartfelt story but there,s this sense that he has watched a lot of film festival darlings and well... it's just not terribly original in presentation and at times, feels formulaic.
The only other negative aspect would be the character of Peter. Naive and idealistic does not mean a character should be bland. Likewise, actor Alex Frost is unremarkable in this role.
All in all, this is a fine film and with Caleb Sinclaire, we have been given a misogynist character that almost rivals Roger Swanson (from the cult classic Roger Dodger). I just hope that in the future, Lee Toland Krieger will find his own voice and style when making movies as opposed to shooting it "like other indies".
The Vicious Kind
Action / Comedy / Drama
The Vicious Kind
Action / Comedy / Drama
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The relationship between two brothers, a father trying to connect with his sons and the young woman who gets between the three of them. The story begins when Caleb Sinclaire reluctantly picks up his brother Peter at college and brings him and his new girlfriend Emma home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Caleb, who recently broke up with his long-time girlfriend and is wary of relationships, warns Peter that Emma will end up hurting him, but he can't stop himself from being drawn to her. As Caleb's infatuation with Emma grows, he must decide whether to act on his feelings or protect his brother's first love.
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