Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Slow as cool molasses, and featuring a couple of foreigners playing Americans… as per usual… we have in 'Arthur Newman' the directorial debut of one Dante Ariola.  Yes, 'Arthur Newman' screams 'Indie' from the simple real world sets, the somewhat limited storyline, and the folksy music, and yes, its pace will force the average viewer to focus… the below average viewer will be asleep… but if you needed to foreigners to play Americans, you can't do much better than Colin Firth and Emily Blunt, now can you?  And it is the presence of Mr. Firth and Ms. Blunt that somehow, someway, drags this slow moving drama kicking and screaming across the finish line.

Wallace Avery (Firth) is one miserable dude.  He has no job, he's divorced but has a girlfriend (Anne Heche) though he seems to neglect her with his awesome boredom at every turn, he has a child from this divorce (Lucas Hedges) but this kid shows his old man about as much respect as one would show week old road kill.  Ah… but Wallace has a way out of this terrible existence of his.  While the nebbish Wallace doesn't look like the kind of cat who would know a seedy dude that can fake an entire identity, he does.  And now Arthur Newman is born and Wallace Avery has swum into the Atlantic Ocean… or Pacific… I can't remember, and doesn't exist anymore.

Now this should be exciting!  My man has murdered off his old self, created a whole new persona, completely reinventing himself!  Uh… no.  He's actually the same dude, just wearing a pink polo shirt.  From my vantage point he might as well had stayed Wallace Avery.  But then he wouldn't have met the incredibly damaged McKella, going by the name of Mike for short (Blunt).  Sure, she looks pretty messed right now, obviously on some kind mind altering drug, looking like warmed over death while lounging by the pool of Arthur's motel, but after Arthur takes her to the hospital to get her a little help and a stomach pump, Mike cleans up amazingly well.  We should all be so lucky to stumble upon drugged out, self-destructive, kleptomaniacal manic depressives that look like this.
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We are glad that Arthur found Mike because at least Mike knows how to push the envelope a little bit.  She's already figured out that Arthur is on the run from his past, as is she, so they go on a little road trip.  With some pulling and prodding from Mike, these two proceed to break into people's homes, put on their clothes pretending to be somebody else, and then have sex.  It's a little strange. 

The long range plan for these two is to make it to Terre Haute Indiana where Arthur, a former golf pro as Wallace, will join a country club as the resident golf pro and start his new awesome life.  In Terre Haute Indiana.  In between all of this we get to see the remnants of the life Wallace left behind in the son that wishes he had a better a dad and the girlfriend who loves him despite the fact he seemed to be the worst boyfriend ever.  And we also get to see, after our wild couple make to Terre Haute, no matter where you go, there you are.  No escaping it. 

I imagine, when crafting a character based drama such as 'Arthur Newman', the key in making it work is creating dynamic, interesting characters that the audience cares about in some way.  Love them, despise them, the characters should move us into being invested into what they are going through on the screen.  As good an actor as Colin Firth is, he wasn't able to interest me in either character he was playing, maybe because they were pretty much identical to each other, maybe because I couldn't relate to or sympathize with his plight, or maybe because Arthur and Wallace were both kind of assholes.  I did not care about Arthur Newman.  At least until we get to the very end when we have a little bit of a twist to chew on and I think we finally get some insight on the character of Wallace / Arthur, but for the most part Wallace / Arthur was stuck playing straight man to Emily Blunt's character of Mike.

Now building on what we mentioned before about being invested in a character, we were more vested into the plight of Mike, though we certainly didn't like Mike who was not all that pleasant to be around, no matter how pretty she might've been.  Thus with 'Arthur Newman', we are kind of trapped hanging with a character we didn't care about, connected to the hip to a character we did not like, with both of these characters existing within a narrative that was in no hurry to go anywhere in particular… Which didn't leave me with the best feeling for 'Arthur Newman' when the final credits got around to rolling. 

That being said, this could more of an effect of personal preference as both Colin Firth and Emily Blunt are actors more than capable of placing a character on screen exactly as they want you to see them, so another watcher of this film might have a different feel for these characters, and as such a different feel for the film.  Because how you feel about these characters, as they dominate this entire film, is how you will ultimately feel about this movie.

For me, I could've done without these guys, and as a byproduct of this, I could've done without 'Arthur Newman'. 
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