The Red Right Hand

We All Make Choices. What's Yours?

Tony Goldwyn
Zach Braff
Jacinda Barrett
Casey Affleck
Rachel Bilson

L’Ultimo Bacio is a pretty average Italian love story, why the hell the Americans felt the need to remake it (as they have done so with multiple titles in recent years) is beyond me. Removing what Italian charm there was and replacing it with a poor monogamy-centred, US-friendly feel. The story opens on Michael [Braff] who seems to have everything: good friends, (newly impregnated) beautiful girlfriend, Jenna [Barrett] and a successful career. Naturally he isn’t satisfied and with the news of his pending fatherhood combined with the possibility of marriage, old Mikey freaks out. As with all of these films, Michael belongs to a tight-knit group of friends (Chris [Affleck], Kenny [Eric Christian Olsen] & Izzy [Michael Weston] and some forgettable, nameless dude), one of whom is getting married. At the reception we witness the faults in our casts’ relationships; Kenny hooks up with this sex-hungry young girl, Chris’ over-bearing wife creates tension and fusses over their child and Izzy’s ex- turns up to throw him completely out of sorts. Michael’s problem is that he’s bored; bored and afraid. So, when the young and extremely flirtatious Kim [Bilson] approaches him, he can’t help but open up. She clearly likes him and doesn’t seem to mind or care that he’s in a relationship – having said that Michael gave her no cause to think that he was at all happy in said relationship. She tells him where she can be found after school (she’s only nineteen, by the way) and they part their separate ways. This sort of negative crap goes on throughout, it’s unbearable! No one is innocent; every single character is corrupt, flawed, self-serving and completely obnoxious! This is the thing, I’m a Scrubs fan. I found Garden State not only funny, but highly entertaining. In summation, Zach Braff’s a funny guy. Paul Haggis, on the other hand, really isn’t and though he may have won an Oscar or two he has a lot to learn about comedy. Lesson 1: No matter how great your cast, if the script stinks the stench will emanate throughout the feature. Director, Goldwyn, has done just this; he has managed to bring together a solid ensemble only to watch them mangle their way through confusing sub-texts, pessimistic outcomes, damaging conclusions and excruciatingly un-funny scenes.

On his way home from work, Michael drives past Kim’s university. Waiting for a while in the bushes and eventually stumbling out, he offers the besotted student a ride home. She invites him to a party and he nervously accepts. Naturally, he goes and has ‘a really good time’ – as one invariably does in these circumstances; completely neglecting the fact that he looks so much older than the pencil thin teens and assorted drunken students. After a long kiss he drives home to Jenna, who stumbled across his alibi and is now onto him. They fight, shout and swear, leading to Michael storming off… out the door and back to Kim for some post-spat sex. If Michaels’ lack of strength and loyalty wasn’t enough to kill the audience, the creators have tacked on a few brief glimpses into his 29-year old chums. These range from Chris’ desperate escape from a life of ‘living hell’ with his whiney wife and (surprisingly) a baby that simply won’t stop crying; Kenny’s realisation that the girl he’s been having sex with for a week actually wants to make something of this relationship – you should see his face drop when she mentions her parents; and Izzy’s refusal to get over his ex-girlfriend, which mostly includes drinking and crying, then eventually heading to her place and socking the guy who answers the door.

On top of all this is the generational division. Not only is every character on-screen in dire straits but their parents are too. Jenna’s mother and father (played by Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson) are having a crisis. With the news that she’s soon to be a Grandmother and having been married for so long, the frustrated Danner decides to tell her husband bluntly and repeatedly that she had an affair three years ago. As Wilkinson is a psychiatrist he starts to calm her and talk it out. The emotionally fuelled Danner has none of it and spends a large portion of the film stomping around like a spoilt child, “I don’t want you to understand! I need a man! I need flesh and blood!” - spurred by the fact that he’s an over-analytical psychiatrist and therefore uncompassionate and fails to understand peoples’ needs. Wilkinson, on the other hand, is actually the most pleasant character in the film, displaying minor offences and offering the best advice. It would appear Haggis has taken his Crash Theory, applied it to the concept of love and flopped miserably in a vat of slap-dash characters, half-arsed plot threads and clichéd lines. Oh, and don’t get me started on that bloody awful ending! That ruined any possibility of salvation! Bloody Braff sits on his own porch in an attempt to win back his girly. It’s not clever, realistic or chivalrous, alright? A four minute montage of sitting is not the way to end a film, especially if I’m to believe he’s starving, cold and pissing all over his own garden! YOU HEAR ME, HAGGIS!? Anyone can sit on a porch for a couple of days! I could do that; I’d just be called mad, deemed a stalker or mugged!

Release Date:
20th October 2006
A NOTE FROM THE RED RIGHT HAND - Everyone has the potential for both good and evil. In 'Crash' it was the power to be racist and noble
The Scene To Look Out For:
After kissing Kim for the first time Michael sits in his car and screams, “What the fuck are you doing? WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” All I could think at this point was that he was acting out of character… that is to say, not acting at all and reflecting on his career choice. ‘What, exactly, am I doing in this flick?’

Notable Characters:
Stephen [Wilkinson] is the only character I could remotely stand, delivered well by Wilkinson but you can’t help but furrow your brow and wonder why he puts up with so much from his thick-headed (sort of future) son-in-law and his hideously appalling wife! You just wish you had that magic ticket from Last Action Hero so you can enter the film and slap some sense into him.

Highlighted Quote:
"What you feel only matters to you. It's what you do to the people you love. That's what matters. That's the only thing that counts"

In A Few Words:
"I hated every character, they’re all selfish, cruel and self centred. I can only imagine this extremely negative attitude going over well with the single or those in bitter break ups"

Total Score:

Matthew Stogdon