Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Alpha Male Reviews

They've started coming in.
This is from
Newcomer Dan Wilde's ``Alpha Male'' adds up to a lot less than the sum of its parts.

Hard-nosed businessman and beloved father Jim Ferris (Danny Huston) dies, leaving a wealthy widow Alice (Jennifer Ehle) and two heartbroken children, Jack and Elyssa.

When Alice marries Clive (Patrick Baladi), a penniless artist, Jack refuses to acknowledge him. Elyssa has her own problems with Alice's manipulative sister Brede (Trudi Styler). By the time Alice and Clive have a child, Jack has left home and cut himself off from his family. His reluctant return to his 21st birthday party, hosted by his mother, brings the sorry stew to a boil.

Total Film
Rated 4/5 stars
In British writer/director Dan Wilde’s debut feature, the ‘alpha male’ in question is Jim Ferris (Danny Huston), a successful businessman who provides for all the needs of wife Alice (Jennifer Ehle) and children Jack and Elyssa. But when he dies suddenly, grief, jealousy and dysfunction fill the vacuum – until the family’s tensions surface a decade later at the 21st birthday party of Jack (Mark Wells).

Much like its characters, Alpha Male is haunted by the patriarch’s continuing presence, as flashbacks (and a ghostly visitation) document the family’s disintegration and fragile rehabilitation. It is subtly written, well performed and never mawkish, even if the action’s confinement to the grounds of the family mansion seems to make time drag. Set around family celebrations, it’s a kind of Three Birthdays And A Funeral – without Hugh Grant’s comic bumbling.

Rated 3/5 stars
The grown-up children of a middle class family can't forgive their parents for the family decisions they made when they were younger.

This is maybe too meticulous and manipulative for such a slender storyline, but the stifling atmosphere induced by selfish motives and repressed resentments is well sustained.

No comments: