Thursday, May 2, 2013

Arthur Newman

"Arthur Newman" is a strange, dreary movie about Wallace Avery (Colin Firth), a professional golfer from Florida whose mental fragility has kept him from success on the tour. Now, trapped in an unhappy marriage and with an adolescent son who resents him for not being around, he's received a serendipitous offer to become the head pro at a country club in Terre Haute, under the invented-on-the-spot name of Arthur Newman. Shortly after setting out, he meets another lost soul, a kleptomaniac who calls herself Michaela (Emily Blunt) but has her own secret identity.

What are Colin Firth and Emily Blunt doing in a picture that opens and closes in one week at the Royal? The set-up suggests intriguing possibilities, none of which come to fruition. Arthur and "Mike," as she asks to be called, go on a small-scale spree, breaking into people's homes when they know they're away and pretending to be them, pilfering little trinkets and gewgaws. There's a lot of plot, but none of it's very much fun, or suspenseful, or compelling. Anne Heche has a go-nowhere role as - I forget - I don't think it's Firth's wife, but maybe his girlfriend, or…? Nothing's altogether clear. "Arthur Newman" feels as unfinished and empty as the name itself; it's a title in search of a movie.

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