Oh, the pain of what could have been. It's so hard when a movie seems to have such potential and falls short.
Consider the possibilities: a playwright is held hostage by his childhood neighbour. They are poles apart in just about every way, but in the midst of the tense situation, the playwright gets the criminal talking by doing an improv exercise and by offering a chat with a famous friend. Communication channels are opened up between opposites. One wonders how much of what has bogged down the life of the beer-swilling gun-wielder has been the lack of ability to imagine and communicate.
But alas - a few great ideas and barely developed plotlines are just left hanging. Martin Donovan wrote, directed and acted in the lead role, and I have to wonder whether that was a mistake. Sure this sometimes works, but it can also lead to a lack of input from others who could give perspective and help overcome blindspots. I suspect part of the problem comes in the fact that the movie didn't succeed in finding that tricky balance between thoughtful dramatic dialogue and comedy. Too often the humour didn't quite succeed, and the serious drama was foiled by the slightly comic tone.
Still, it made me think and I never considered turning it off, and that is not nothing. So I will give it ***, a mug reluctantly held up but I'm sadly wishing it could have been more.