Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kissing To Be Clever

Paul Giamatti from an interview in the British Guardian:

Your new movie, Win Win, casts you as a small-town lawyer and a high-school wrestling coach who is struggling to pay the bills and cuts some moral corners. It struck me as one of the subtlest responses to the credit crisis I've seen. Do you agree that it broadens our idea of heroism in a way?

I'm glad you say that. It's interesting. The response in the US is to see the character as kind of despicable, they have got on their high moral horse about it. As much as people like the movie and sympathise with it, they call the guy a loser.

Maybe Brits are more sympathetic to losers?

Well, I suppose failure is more interesting in general than success. It is closer to life maybe. A couple of reviews of Win Win were very indignant that the guy didn't get his boiler fixed [it is threatening to explode throughout the film]. It was like: why can't he get off his ass and fix it? It's funny. I'll be interested to see if that's what people think in the UK. I did a movie called American Splendor, based on the comic book writer Harvey Pekar. That character was very much judged as a loser in the US, too, a sort of a pathetic slob, but in Europe no one saw it like that. He was much more sympathetic. I guess that says something about both places.

Part of this, I assume, is Giamatti knows complimenting the locals on their discernment, especially as opposed to those philistine Americans, can't hurt.  But does he have a point?

My guess is no.  Maybe Americans have a more can-do spirit and don't like protagonists who sit back and let life roll over them.  But I think the bigger split is between the elite audience who go to see art films (the kind Giamatti is likely to star in) and the wider audience that wants to watch winners, not whiners.

By the way, the American reviews of Win Win were quite positive, and (as far as I can tell) generally saw Giamatti's character as very real and very human, not a nasty loser.  As for American Splendor, it made $6 million in America and $2 million in the rest of the world, so maybe all Paul got overseas was that elite crowd he's kissing up to.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

" maybe all Paul got overseas was that elite crowd he's kissing up to."

You say that like its a bad thing

1:39 PM, May 29, 2011  
Blogger LAGuy said...

If Giamatti wants to keep starring in films it is.

4:02 PM, May 29, 2011  

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