Arthur Newman Blu-ray Review
Wallace Avery is divorced, he has no clear connection with his current girlfriend, his teenage son loathes him, and he’s working a job at FedEx. In short, he’s unhappy with being Wallace Avery. So Wallace (Colin Firth, THE KING’S SPEECH) hatches a plan: tell Mina (Anne Heche, CEDAR RAPIDS) and Kevin (Lucas Hedges, MOONRISE KINGDOM) he’s leaving, rent a car and head for the coast. It’s at the beach that Wallace will drown and Arthur Newman will be born.
Arthur is a former professional golfer (and so more content in his life than a FedEx floor manager, or so the script insists) who sets off for Indiana to work as a consultant at a swanky golf club. But that all gets derailed when he comes across a woman passed out by a motel pool. Arthur approaches her and declares, “I’m going to try to help you.”
The woman is Michaela “Mike” Fitzgerald (Emily Blunt, THE YOUNG VICTORIA), who has a few identity problems of her own and a taste for cough syrup laced with morphine. Sure enough, Arthur and Mike become road buddies and soul mates, more or less because there wouldn’t be a movie if Arthur let her die by the diving board.
And so ARTHUR NEWMAN turns into one of those thin stories about how strangers share a common bond and feel compelled to change each other’s lives. They both want to be saviors. At one point, Arthur actually says, “My name is Arthur J. Newman and I saved you,” a line that is there only to remind the audience that, yes, he is claiming this identity and, yes, he will make it his goal to rescue someone. (Whether he’s meant to be a Christ-like character is left up to the viewer.) In the meantime, the twosome will break into homes, play dress-up and roleplay, which does more to initiate sex scenes than it does to develop the characters and story.
ARTHUR NEWMAN is the feature debut by Dante Ariola, who has a DGA Award for his work in commercials, and is written by Becky Johnston, who was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for THE PRINCE OF TIDES. (The screenplay was written more than two decades ago and was intended for Nick Nolte to star in.) Ariola has landed two talented actors for his debut, but he seems to make little effort in wanting the audience to sympathize with them. (It doesn’t help that Firth, who has one Oscar and another nomination, and Blunt, who has four Golden Globe nominations with one win, sleepwalk through their performances.) Instead, we’re subjected to two miserable beings who can’t even pretend to be happy and so we give up on them pretty early. Occasionally Johnston’s screenplay drifts back to Florida, where Mina and Kevin seem to have grown closer in an unusual way since Wallace up and left. But even that fails to interest and just seems like Johnston stretching to include a complex relationship.
ARTHUR NEWMAN is about finding one’s identity while in an unfamiliar territory. But it’s approached in such a bizarre manner and features such unlikeable characters that we don’t particularly care who finds what and/or where. We just want them to vanish.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. ARTHUR NEWMAN has a solid enough picture, although some of the darker scenes lack depth.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. All of the lines and exchanges between characters are comprehendible and without issue in this dialogue-driven movie. That said, the exclusion of subtitles will pose a problem for some.
Behind the Scenes Featurette (30:27): Dante Ariola, Colin Firth, Emily Blunt, and more discuss their initial reactions to the script, the ‘70s-like style of the movie, the themes, and more.
Also included is a DVD.