Changing Lanes

"Extraordinary"

Changing Lanes Review


After watching the trailer for Changing Lanes, I expected a film similar to Steven Spielberg's road rage drama Duel, where a hatchback and a semi do battle. While Changing Lanes is definitely a clash between two men, much to my surprise, it reaches a deeper and more satisfying level. Changing Lanes is a thought-provoking, sophisticated drama that explores the motivations behind our split second decision-making and the consequences that result.

Ben Affleck is Gavin Banek, a young Wall Street attorney on the fast track to becoming partner at his father-in-law's well-respected law firm. His on-the-go lifestyle takes him from the office to the courthouse, then on to charity events and back to the office for interviews and meetings. Samuel L. Jackson is Doyle Gibson, an insurance agent and recovering alcoholic engaged in a custody battle with his wife for their two young boys. He has just qualified for a new house and is trying to get back on his feet again.

The worlds of these two men suddenly collide during the morning rush hour on New York's crowded FDR Drive as they head to respective court appearances. Gavin feels his time is much too important to exchange information, so he hastily scribbles out a blank check to Doyle for the damages. Gavin quickly flees the scene, leaving Doyle stranded in the rain with nowhere to go.

But Doyle loses his custody rights as a result of his tardiness to court. Gavin's case is postponed until he regains a file he left behind at the accident scene. Doyle now possesses the file. With his career and the fate of the law firm on the line, Gavin takes extreme measures against Doyle to pressure him into returning the file. Equally frustrated by his own circumstances, Doyle refuses to return the file and instead, counters Gavin's aggression with equally damaging results.

Director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) does a fine job establishing each character during the film's opening sequence. Despite coming from two seemingly different worlds, the lives of both men are ruled by a similar chaos. Gavin speaks to a gathering of children at an upscale fundraiser while Doyle attends an AA meeting in a dank, overpopulated room. The film alternates between the two men with the audio from each man's world intersecting the other. Michell uses this editing technique to foreshadow their eventual encounter on the highway. This same production design is used with great effectiveness throughout the film to reinforce the parallel struggles exacerbated by the choices both men make.

Changing Lanes focuses on the ethical decisions these characters make and the consequences their actions have on those around them. While Gavin chooses to make life miserable for Doyle, those at his law firm deal with the situation in a way that has a greater moral impact on Gavin and his family. Once Gavin recognizes how his actions have also negatively impacted Doyle's wife and kids, he feels the need to help rectify the wrongs he has made. The same thing happens with Doyle. After his dealings land him in jail, further complicating his troubled relationship with his family, Doyle's AA sponsor (William Hurt) helps him realize his true addiction is to chaos, not alcohol. He chooses to confront his hostility rather than fighting it and returns the file to Gavin.

The movie stays in the fast lane with compelling performances by a stellar ensemble cast. Affleck is convincing as the selfish young man desperate to make whatever choices will keep his career moving upward. As a father in crisis struggling to stay clean of alcohol and bring his family together, we easily identify with Jackson's Doyle. In a supporting role, Sydney Pollack is ruthless as Gavin's boss, and Kim Staunton is equally solid playing Doyle's wife.

Changing Lanes is much larger than its unfortunate trailer. The film is simple in its approach yet is highly complex and provocative with the handling of the ethical consequences facing its characters. Even though Changing Lanes finishes a little too polished, the ending is fully justifiable within the context of the characters' actions and their revelations. We leave the theater pondering what will happen next

It's easily the best mainstream movie this year.

The DVD adds a commentary from Michell, a couple of deleted and extended scenes, and a few featurettes. None of this is very compelling, though. In the end, the film stands perfectly well on its own.

Forgot your turn signal, Ben.



Changing Lanes

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th April 2002

Box Office USA: $66.7M

Box Office Worldwide: $94.9M

Budget: $45M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 116 Rotten: 35

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Gavin Banek, Samuel L. Jackson as Doyle Gipson, as Valerie Gipson, as Michelle, as Stephen Delano, as Ron Cabot, as Doyle's Sponsor, as Carlyle

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

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.