I did one of those Shaw-On-Demand things yesterday at rented ‘About Schmidt’, that Jack Nicholson movie that everyone was raving about some time ago. I’d purposely not watched it prior, because I’m not a huge Jack Nicholson fan, because he always seems to be playing himself, rather than a character. However, it was said what made this film so interesting in that most definitely was not being Jack Nicholson.
Which may be true: I hope that Jack Nicholson isn’t so sad and jaded and angry as Warren Schmidt. As a man at the opposite end of life from myself, it was rather interesting and horrifying to watch this sad little man unravel a little bit. Whereas I’m just starting and full of dreams and love and life, all of those things really seemed to be in the past for him.
The directing was fairly minimal, but clearly influenced by the recent stylish indie-crop, with odd angles, harsh lighting (à la Dogma), weird stills, etc. Think of a drawn out ‘Six Feet Under’ episode, stylistically.
Jack Nicholson was indeed very, very good, and deserving of the praise he got. Particularly for such a big star to play such a pathetic old man — not so much an acting stretch, perhaps, but definitely an ego stretch.
The letter-to-Ndugu device (an Tanzanian foster child) was a good way to have him rant about the things he couldn’t say to his friends and family (or in some cases, shouldn’t have), and as so, the narration really made the film: we are living in his head, and hearing his tired voice as he gets on his tirades was very effective. The slight changes in his expression to match also worked well.
Darkly humorous and sad, it’s probably worthwhile seeing, but I wouldn’t say rush out and get it.