Amateur

"Good"

Amateur Review


Hal Hartley's latest film, Amateur, is quite a departure from his earlier work. Still gone is his once-traditional lead, the crimson-haired ingenue Adrienne Shelly (who hasn't been seen since Trust), and in her stead are two foreign actresses, Isabelle Huppert (as a lapsed nun trying to make it as a porn story writer and who believes she is a nymphomaniac) and Elena Lowensohn (returning to Hartley's films as Sofia, a somewhat psycho porn star). Hartley's favorite male lead, Martin Donovan, remains as Thomas, the slimeball husband of Sofia.

The plot is this: Sofia is fed up with Thomas, so she tries to kill him. He doesn't die--he just cracks his head and develops amnesia. Isabelle finds him and takes him under her already fragile wing. Throw in an extortion plot wherein the old Thomas was trying to blackmail a nameless entity, and add the thugs trying to kill him. Eventually, everyone gets sucked into this scheme, and nothing works out for any of them.

Why Amateur? Well, all the principals are new at something: Isabelle is new at the porn game and a virgin to boot. Sofia is new at trying to extort money from someone. Thomas is new to life in general. Clever, right?

Well.... The problem is that the plot is revealed so cryptically and moves so slowly that it renders the movie stagnant. It's difficult to follow, and the characters drone on and on at each other, philosophizing at length, about what, I can't even remember. The action/comedy sequences are superb, but there just aren't enough of them to carry the film. The end result is that Amateur is a fabulous story that's told rather badly.

At least the acting is on target, and the story is original. And some of the film's scenes, especially the ones involving the two thugs, Thomas's old partner, and his torture and revenge, are so bright as to dim the rest of the movie.

Hartley's characteristic oddball-ness is here, all right, but the fresh and funny approach to the way we live our lives is absent. Amateur could have been an action-driven comedy instead of a sloppy narrative; Hartley made a "deep" and tragic movie about big-time people. Whereas a movie like Trust, a film about lower-middle class twentysomethings, was a comedic riot. Hal, I hope you return to your old ways.

And I miss Adrienne, too.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th May 1995

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Isabelle, as Thomas Ludens, Elina Löwensohn as Sofia Ludens, as Edward, Jaque's Accountant, as Jan, Jaque's Goon, as Kurt, Jaque's Goon, as Officer Patsy Melville

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.