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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

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...

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...

Advertisement
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...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

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.