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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Go and ‘see’ The Lookout

Published: April 20, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

With a smart script, interesting camera angles, and solid performances, The Lookout is a mesmerizing crime drama. Aside from a couple of missteps, its film-noir elements both effectively enthrall and disturb the senses.

The Lookout is a unique movie-going experience, eliciting a kind of discomfort and dread in its audience rarely seen in current cinema. This apprehension may come from the viewers immediate bond with main character Chris Pratt, played fluidly by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Levitt brings charisma and refreshing honesty to the role of a brain-damaged man constantly preoccupied with deep thoughts that only the audience, and not the other characters in the movie, are aware of. Chris is forced to live every day with the consequences of a senseless car accident that occurred when he was a high school all-star hockey player. This accident resulted in two deaths, and severe brain damage to Chris, whose former life dissolves the moment he hits that oncoming car. Lewis, played by Jeff Daniels, is a member of the same rehabilitational program as Chris. Although Lewis is the clich blind man who still manages to see everything on a deeper level;

Daniels still manages to bring a haunting honesty to his character.

The movie begins to gather momentum when Chris meets Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) who is the first to approach Chris with the idea of robbing the bank where Chris works as a custodian. Spargo manipulates Chris with the allure of women, money, and power. Chris becomes the lookout for these men and must eventually pay for the chaotic consequences of their heist.

The Lookout is a success because the characters are layered and react realistically to their environments. The actors bring these complex characters to life and they seem driven by their own emotions and their pasts rather than a script. From the first scene of the film until its final moments, I was on edge, filled with anxiety that something terrible was about to happen. Almost every piece of the crime puzzle fits together in the film, thanks to a well-planned and character-motivated plot.

The film only has a few flat moments. Luvlee (Isla Fisher) is the femme fatale figure of The Lookout, as she seduces Chris into a world of crime and degradation while working for Gary and his men. Her relationship with Chris is never shown meaningfully outside of the physical realm. The movie still felt it necessary, however, to depict Luvlee watching Chris remorsefully from a car window as she drives away from him forever. This scene implies that she actually cares about him or has suddenly grown a conscience. Neither reason for this change of heart is realistic, and the scene is wholly unnecessary.

Other than a couple of similar predictable moments The Lookout shines. It subtly leads the viewer through Chris mind: first as a broken man trying to live a normal life, then as an unlikely member of a bank heist, and finally as a courageous man who must correct a situation that went awry. Thanks to Gordon-Levitts vulnerability and effective on-screen presence, we not only believe his story, but we root for him too.