Action / Drama

IMDb Rating 5.6 10 5998


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Al Pacino as A.J. Manglehorn
Holly Hunter as Dawn
Chris Messina as Jacob
1.44 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 37 min
P/S 1 / 4

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Steve Pulaski 9 / 10

A film for the lonely

Film critic Mike D'Angelo mentions that Manglehorn is perhaps David Gordon Green's least distinctive film, and from the moment I read that, I had to agree with it. Manglehorn lacks the elements of grittiness and naturalism that Green's previous features housed, most likely because this particular effort wasn't written by him. Most of Green's trademarks - standout cinematography by Tim Orr, elements of impressionism, and exploration of a societal underbelly - are either absent or significantly muted. Manglehorn takes on a more episodic structure than the distinctly natural personality Green often conveys, and between a wide variety of intimate short films, a debut film like George Washington, deviations like The Sitter and Your Highness, and recent projects like Joe and this one, Green has proved he can defy everything from conventions to expectations.

Our titular subject is played by Al Pacino, a veteran actor who, in just his most recent performances in this film and Danny Collins, has given way to a tender, more contemplative side to his decades of character acting. He's A.J. Manglehorn here, a professional key-maker who goes about his day locksmithing everything from cars to storefront doors. One look at Manglehorn from an uninformed outsider and they see a man who confidently goes about his day, his job, and his doings, not thinking twice about anything and ostensibly trying to get his job done as efficiently as possible. Yet, Manglehorn is hurting immensely, as we can tell from sporadic voiceovers throughout the film.

Manglehorn fondly recalls the woman he loved and lost; his and her circumstances are left mostly unclear. He speaks so fondly of her that we get the feeling that when she left, everything around him crumbled. He built his life, his personality, his mood, and his feelings around a woman that he effectively made himself miserable to make sure she was happy. Now that she's gone, all Manglehorn can do is proceed forward on autopilot, incessantly caring for his cat and trying not to be fazed by every day activities. His son Jacob (Chris Messina) and him have a frigid relationship, his old friend Gary (Harmony Korine in a role that fits him like a glove) keeps popping up at the most inconvenient times to say the most insensitive thing, and the female bank teller (Holly Hunter), who flirts with him on a consistent basis, doesn't even bring him to a smile.

I identify so much with Manglehorn it's almost frightening; the days where you seem to be on autopilot, the perfunctory interactions that feel like monumental events in your own mind, and the persistent feeling of emptiness and hunger for someone you cannot have are all things that have burdened me this year. The strongest emotional empathy one can have with Manglehorn will come if one has specifically tried to cope with loneliness, the deprivation of someone that makes them happy, and the inability to solely live with one's self.

However, as a film, Manglehorn really shows what Pacino is capable of in his current state. At seventy-five, Pacino wears his straight-forward mug and his slicked back, gray hair with a sense of confidence, expressing contemplation and the weariness of life experience in every facial expression. This is a seasoned actor at work here and, much like in Danny Collins, Pacino's character is likable here because we immediately grasp the sense of what his character wants.

Writer Paul Logan captures Manglehorn's story in an episodic fashion, one that gives each character his or her respective dues but ultimately circumvents to show how Manglehorn himself feels with every reaction. He's a vulnerable character, one that can have an unpredictable reaction to any situation and somebody who, after meeting the woman he truly loved, goes through each and every day with a lot of pain. On this basis alone, he's a character fit for a movie.

David Gordon Green's last film, Joe, was another big winner in my book, capturing the humid south to a tee and showing a fragile but unmistakable bond between a workaholic lumberjack and a young teenager. Manglehorn, however, marches to the beat of a different drum. Shot with the respectable sensitivity of Green is known for, yet muting his and cinematographer Tim Orr's characteristics throughout, Manglehorn is a film stripped of gimmicks and cheap ploys that helps get right to the character here - a troubled and emotionally hurt man who is trying to get through every day with his sanity still intact. Again, I can relate immensely.

Starring: Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Harmony Korine, and Chris Messina. Directed by: David Gordon Green.

Reviewed by We Watched A Movie 3 / 10

Over-direct much?

A character piece about the life of one grumpy old, senile man. His issues are laid-out in grandiose & overly sentimental melodramatics. We as an audience are slowly dragged from sad set piece to sad set piece where the conclusions are obvious if only the film would spare us the "drama" and arrive at them already.

Manglehorn is an Indie that knows its an Indie and is closer to "Prince Avalanche" than any of the Directors other works. Al Pacino kills it here but instead of focusing on the solid dramatic acting, Green decided to over-direct this right into "trying to hard to be pretentious" territory.

Manglehorn is trying to re-connect with a long lost love while slowly driving away the things he does have in his life. He's struggling to be happy. Where in that the Director feels the need to have "LSD flashback" type sequences is lost on me.

It's not original nor refreshing to slowly plod an audience around in drab and everyday circumstances, throw some folk music or a harp in the background and call it "subdued" and "special". I don't need Jurassic Park Dinosaurs or anything but I don't need to see him feed his cat 37 times to realize he loves it. I don't need to see him get his mail 32 times before you get to the point of why. I just need Pacino, with something to chew on. I just need his character to fight these demons already. I just need his struggles, his journey and his resolution.

Instead you meandered for 90% of the film and slapped it together at the end with some attempt at an thoughtful ending that landed with about as much intrigue as a happy meal toy. What a wasted Pacino performance. 3/10

Reviewed by anthonycolange 5 / 10

A Mangled Opportunity

I had the chance to see this at the Toronto International Film Festival in early September and came away disappointed.

The movie is founded on a great premise and I was eager to see where it went. Playing a brooding, lonely old man obsessed with a past relationship seems like a good fit for the veteran Pacino. A sole proprietor key cutter was the perfect choice of profession for such a character. Giving Pacino full screen time was a good choice, as I can't recall a scene that didn't feature Pacino.

However, inconsistency in the Manglehorn character seems to overwhelm a good acting performance. Manglehorn seems at times senile or rude, and at other times the clever, likable character with good advice. It doesn't help that a good explanation for his obsession with a past relationship is lacking.

There are some solid random scenes and conversations, including Manglehorn's discussion with a child or the entertaining Korine telling stories of little league. These worthwhile scenes are surrounded by just as many scenes that fall flat and make you lose interest. Too often scenes are present as filler or make you feel like a better climax is due. Manglehorn's interactions with his son, played well by Chris Messina, feel like they belong in a different story arc.

I believe that Green has the ability to make a great, subtle film if it all comes together. In Manglehorn, the script Pacino is given and the characters he is surrounded with take him no where in particular, which is fine if you are entertained or enlightened throughout the film's duration. That's not the case here. Though the foundation was there, the payoff isn't worth the attention paid.

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