Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Life Less Ordinary

Directed by Danny Boyle and written by John Hodge, A Life Less Ordinary is the story about a disgruntled Scottish janitor who kidnaps his boss’ daughter as they conspire to get a ransom unaware that angels are trying to get them to fall in love. The film is a romantic-comedy of sorts with a bit of an edge that revels in a bit of violence but also fantasy. Starring Ewan McGregor, Cameron Diaz, Delroy Lindo, Holly Hunter, Dan Hedaya, Tony Shalhoub, Maury Chaykin, Stanley Tucci, and Ian Holm. A Life Less Ordinary is a witty yet off-the-wall film from Danny Boyle.

When true love is involved, fate comes into play to ensure that true love does happen while anything else that prevents that from happening have to be pushed aside. The film is about a couple of angels who arrive to Earth to make sure that an enraged Scottish janitor named Robert (Ewan McGregor) and a spoiled rich girl named Celine (Cameron Diaz) get together where if they don’t succeed, the angels will be forced to stay on Earth forever. Yet, the angels in O’Reilly (Holly Hunter) and Jackson (Delroy Lindo) do whatever it takes to make sure Robert and Celine together as the former decides to kidnap Celine for a ransom after he was fired by her father (Ian Holm) who replaced him for a robot. Though Robert is inexperienced in the idea of kidnapping, Celine helps him so she can collect some of the ransom money after realizing that her father decides to cut her off.

John Hodge’s screenplay definitely plays to the schematics of love where Robert and Celine are two people with very different views as the former is a dreamer who wants to write a novel as he’s going through a string of bad luck. The latter is a rich young woman who likes to do dangerous things and live a certain lifestyle as she had been through too many bad relationships to even consider the idea that there’s such a thing as true love. Because of the idea that true love is hokey, it causes problems up in Heaven where Gabriel (Dan Hedaya) is overwhelmed as God told him that he’s making new rules about to deal with the failure of love not happening. Hodge’s script isn’t just filled with some elements of black comedy as well as a bit of satire into the idea of the rom-com. He also allows the script to have some funny dialogue that plays into the idea of love while giving Robert and Celine reasons into why they should be with each other.

Danny Boyle’s direction is definitely engaging as well as stylized in some of the framing he creates as well as just letting things be much looser. Notably as Boyle incorporates a bit of the musical in the form of a duet between Robert and Celine to Bobby Darin’s Beyond the Sea. While it is a romantic comedy, Boyle is also aware that he wants to infuse the film with other genres such as crime and black comedy. Though the results can be a bit of a mess, Boyle does enough to make sure that the story is still there where he adds some suspense and moments to keep things light-hearted and fun. Overall, Boyle creates a very exciting and heartfelt film about love and fate.

Cinematographer Brian Tufano does excellent work with the film‘s photography where a lot of it is straightforward for the exteriors set in Los Angeles and parts of Utah while using some more stylish lights in some of the film‘s interior scenes. Editor Masahiro Hirakubo does nice work with the editing as it‘s very stylized to play up some of the humor and action as well as some dazzling moments in Robert‘s fantasy scenes. Production designer Kave Quinn, with set decorator Marcia Calosio and art director Tracey Gallacher, do great work with the look of Heaven where it’s all white and looks like a police station while keeping things more simpler for the scenes set on Earth. Costume designer Rachael Fleming does terrific work with the costumes from the more casual clothing of Robert to the more stylish clothes of Celine to display their personalities as well as bringing some styles to the clothes of O‘Reilly and Jackson.

Animation director Michael Mort does fantastic work with a claymation epilogue that reveals more into the fate of the film‘s characters. Sound editor Andy Kennedy does terrific work with the sound to capture some of the funnier moments of the film as well as some of its action scenes. The film’s music by David Arnold is superb for its playful use of electronic music to capture some of its humor and romantic elements. Music supervisor Randall Poster creates a very fun soundtrack that features music from Diana Ross & the Supremes, R.E.M., Ash, Elastica, Underworld, Oasis, Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Sneaker Pimps, the Prodigy, Beck, Orbital, the Shirelles, Gladys Knight, Luscious Jackson, Faithless, the Folk Implosion, and the Cardigans.

The casting by Donna Isaacson is brilliant as it features some notable small roles from K.K. Dobbs as Robert’s former girlfriend, Timothy Olyphant as a hitchhiker, Ian McNiece as Celine’s father’s bodyguard, Tony Shalhoub as a bar owner Robert later works for, Maury Chaykin as a cabin neighbor Robert and Celine befriends, and Stanley Tucci as a former prospect of Celine who would briefly help them out only to try to flirt with Celine. Dan Hedaya is excellent as the archangel Gabriel who gives O’Reilly and Jackson the mission while realizing that he might have the power to play into the fates of Robert and Celine. Ian Holm is superb as Celine’s very greedy and smarmy father who would rather keep the money than pay Robert’s ransom causing more dissent from his daughter.

Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo are great in their respective roles as O’Reilly and Jackson as two angels who pose as bounty hunters who are doing whatever it takes to get Robert and Celine together even if it hurts or kills them. Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz are remarkable in their roles as Robert and Celine as two people brought together by circumstances as they deal with their differences. Notably as McGregor brings a comical approach to his character who is sort of a dimwitted dreamer while Diaz is more cool as a jaded spoiled rich girl who doesn’t believe in love where the two are also very fun to watch.

A Life Less Ordinary is a stellar yet enjoyable film from Danny Boyle that features top-notch performances from Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz. Armed with a wonderful supporting cast and a kick-ass soundtrack, it’s a film that doesn’t take itself seriously while wanting to give the audience something that is something different and fun in comparison to some of the more darker and intense films of Boyle’s other work. In the end, A Life Less Ordinary is a fantastic film from Danny Boyle.

Danny Boyle Films: Shallow Grave - Trainspotting - The Beach - 28 Days Later - Millions - Sunshine - Slumdog Millionaire - 127 Hours - Trance - Steve Jobs (2015 film) - T2 Trainspotting - (Yesterday (2019 film))

© thevoid99 2013


Unknown said...

I really enjoyed this movie, even though a lot of people I know didn't. I thought it was a great throwback to old school screwball comedies. just with a dark edge

thevoid99 said...

For me, it's Boyle wanting to do something that was lighter and entertaining. Plus, it's funny and doesn't take itself seriously unlike that other movie that had a similar premise in Excess Baggage, remember that film?