Rick

"Good"

Rick Review


Demonstrating that his unique creativity as a writer extends beyond darkly humorous kids' books, in "Rick," Daniel Handler of "Lemony Snicket" fame delves into something more dastardly and grown-up -- an extremely dark comedy adapted from Giuseppe Verdi's tragic opera "Rigoletto" and set in an almost surreal, cut-throat corporate world.

Bill Pullman, who always makes interesting choices when he makes independent films, stars as Rick O'Lette, an aging, career-stalled middle manager who "used to be a nice guy." Now a callous, seething sycophant -- whose own brashness is subservient to a cocky, serpentine young-gun executive (succulently sleazy Aaron Stanford) -- Rick is lured into a murder plot, designed to clear his path to a corner office. A mysteriously au fait old college classmate (charming, matter-of-factly malevolent Dylan Baker) approaches him in some tecnho-Orwellian bar and hints that he makes a seemingly respectable living (with business cards and everything) in the snuff trade and takes advantage of Rick's animosity and ambition.

Director Curtiss Clayton (an acclaimed editor making his helming debut) puts the weight of this strange world on Rick's shoulders, with the mahogany walls of his baroque office closing in on him, and long-dead bigwigs glaring down from musty oil paintings which now hang over desk cubicles and flat-screen computers. And yet Clayton has an ironically light touch with Handler's very black wit, giving the film an alluring pitch of unsettling laughs throughout the ill-fated events that soon unfold.

Both writer and director show strokes of genius in the way they modernize certain story elements, as when a job applicant Rick has offhandedly abused (Sandra Oh) in an early scene puts an unnerving curse on him before bolting from his office, almost in tears. She has no mystical abilities -- it's just a way of taking out her frustration for the cruelty -- and Rick tries laughs it off, but the insinuation of hoodoo gets under his skin all the same.

But a few entirely avoidable contrivances keep "Rick" from becoming the masterful adaptation it might have been. One involves Rick's wily, intelligent teenage daughter (Agnes Bruckner), who becomes sexually involved with Daddy's boss by means that lack credibility. The other involves the dubious laxity of a hit man's methods and the fact that Clayton d-r-a-g-s out the obvious lead-up to their consequences.

But the film's imaginative visual style, its atmosphere thick with surreptitious menace, and the performances -- all of which balance on the edge of oddly twinkly darkness -- more than make up for the picture's few shortcomings. This is especially true of Pullman and the way he lets slip touches of fear and insecurity floating beneath Rick's superficially slick exterior.

A bold adaptation of a classic morality tale ("Rigoletto" takes place in 16th Century Mantua and its title character is a Duke's hunchback court jester), "Rick" manages to be both disquieting and entertaining -- and that's quite a cunning feat of cinema.



Rick

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 29th April 2004

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Curtiss Clayton

Starring: as Rick O'Lette, as Duke, as Eve O'Lette, as Michelle, as Buck, as Duke's Long-Suffering Wife, as Laura

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Advertisement
Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

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...

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.