In Phillip Morris, the relative naïveté and earnestness of Ewan McGregor’s titular object of affection created a sweet moral conflict between Jim Carrey’s protagonist’s incessant scheming and need for transgression. This sorrowfully links addiction and substance abuse in a manner Focus merely gestures to in a scene where Smith mimics alcoholism on the job.
However, because all of Smith’s behaviors are veiled performances angling toward the acquisition of something, the scene registers as a surface-level grappling with a weighty implication.
An ugly-in-spirit, clumsily styled (ed. the swivel reaction pans to Teller's face are atrocious) faux Social Network. Upsettingly celebrates antagonism and verbal violence as reported. J.K. Simmons's performance is terrible and Teller is too smothered by Damien Chazelle's pop psychologizing to be able to make an impression.
I don't know if I'll write on this in longer form or not (probably for The Miscellany if anything; currently deciding whether to cover it or the, in my eyes…
I'm rather heavily verging three stars on this (which is, in fact, the rating I gave it in Thur 12 Feb's Misc). I'm being generous because, as I detail in my review for The News, Poitras's skill as a filmmaker is undeniable, and, rousing, righteous, real-life political advocacy that it is, it has a mischievously formalist spirit that I would very much like to see applied to better subjects, or with less first-person intrusion, or both—I need to see…