Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Impostors

Written, directed and co-starring Stanley Tucci, The Impostors is the story of two struggling actors who accidentally stow away on a cruise to run from an egomaniacal actor while meeting with an array of offbeat passengers and crew members. The film is a farcical comedy where it involves many people who pretend to be someone else while dealing the need to act in order to save themselves. Also starring Oliver Platt, Alfred Molina, Lili Taylor, Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, Steve Buscemi, Michael Emerson, Billy Connolly, Dana Ivey, Allison Janney, Richard Jenkins, Tony Shalhoub, and Isabella Rosselini. The Impostors is a rip-roaring and exhilarating film from Stanley Tucci.

Set during the Great Depression in New York City, the film revolves around the misadventure of two struggling actors who receive tickets to a show starring an egomaniacal actor where they insult him at a bar only to go on the run and find themselves as stowaways on a cruise ship. It’s a film that play into two men who are trying to make it as actors but upon learning they’re on a cruise ship where they pretend to be stewards. Stanley Tucci’s screenplay is quite loose where it plays into these misadventures of Maurice (Oliver Platt) and Arthur (Stanley Tucci) to them trying to get food as they’re unemployed as well as what goes on in the ship as they encounter a series of offbeat passenger and crew members. Among them is a deposed queen (Isabella Rosselini), a heartbroken singer (Steve Buscemi), a once-rich-turned poor widow (Dana Ivey) with her grieving daughter (Hope Davis), a possibly gay tennis pro (Billy Connolly), and other oddball characters. Adding to the turmoil is the fact that the famed but arrogant actor Jeremy Burtom (Alfred Molina) is also on the ship.

Tucci’s direction is definitely stylish starting with an opening credits sequence where Maurice and Arthur cause trouble as a way to avoid paying for coffee and food as it’s presented like a silent movie. Then it becomes partially straightforward with elements of slapstick comedy where some of it is shot partially in New York City while much of it is shot on a soundstage for the scenes set on the cruise ship. While Tucci would create some amazing compositions with the wide and medium shots, much of it presented loosely where he allows his actors to just create performances that are exaggerated. While it does help to tell the story, there is an element where it feels self-indulgent at times but Tucci wants to create something where the actors are there to have fun and allow themselves to over-act at times. Overall, Tucci creates a silly yet extremely fun film about two actors who stowaway on a cruise and try to find a way to solve problems through the power of acting.

Cinematographer Ken Kelsch does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography from the colorful and sunny look of the daytime New York City exteriors to the look of the many interiors on the cruise ship as well as some of its exteriors. Editor Suzy Elmiger does brilliant work with the editing as its usage of jump-cuts and other rhythmic cuts play into its humor and lively tone. Production designer Andrew Jackness, with set decorator Catherine Davis and art director Chris Shriver does amazing work with the look of the cruise ship with its exteriors as well as some of the interiors of the rooms and ballroom in the ship. Costume designer Juliet Polcsa does fantastic work with the design of the clothes from the clothes of the men including the lavish look of Burtom and the dresses that the women wear.

Hair stylists Victor DeNicola and Carla White do nice work with the hairstyles the women wore in those times along with some of the wigs that some of the characters wear. Sound editor Robert Hein does terrific work with the sound in the way some of the sound effects are presented as well as the sparse moment in the play scene. The film’s music by Gary DeMichele is wonderful for its ragtime/jazz-based score that played into the period of the times while music supervisor Margot Core creates a soundtrack that play into that period including some old music in French as it relates to the destination of where the ship is going to.

The casting by Ellen Lewis is incredible for the ensemble that is created as it feature some notable small roles from David Lipman as a baker Arthur harasses and gives Maurice tickets to a show, Matt Malloy as a fellow actor that Maurice and Arthur knows who had been humiliated by Burtom, Lewis J. Stadlen as a band leader, Elizabeth Bracco as an entertainment director for the cruise, Allan Corduner as the ship’s captain, Michael Emerson as Burtom’s assistant, Teagle F. Bougere as a sheik who has a fondness for a certain French song, Matt McGrath as an Italian detective named Marco who is afraid to kill as he has feelings for one of the ship’s directors in Lily, and Woody Allen in an un-credited yet funny performance as a neurotic stage director Maurice and Arthur audition for. Richard Jenkins and Allison Janney are superb in their respective roles as the con artists Johnny and Maxine as Americans who pretend to be French as they both try to woo Mrs. Essendine and the sheik. Tony Shalhoub is stellar as the ship’s first mate Voltri as a man who runs the ship but also has some very dark motives of his own.

Dana Ivey is wonderful as the widowed Mrs. Essendine who is upset that her late husband didn’t leave her a cent while Hope Davis is terrific as her daughter Emily who grieves for her father and acts melancholy until she notices the heartbroken singer. Isabella Rossellini is fantastic as the veiled queen who laments over being deposed and not want to be seen as she is fun to watch while Campbell Scott is hilarious as the German cruise director Meistrich who has a thing for Lily where he is just a hoot. Billy Connolly is excellent as the tennis pro Sparks who definitely bear some homosexual tendencies as he is fond of Maurice while Steve Buscemi is amazing as the suicidal and heartbroken singer Happy Franks. 

Lili Taylor is brilliant as a cruise director in Lily who befriends Maurice and Arthur as she tries to help them hide as well as deal with Meistrich. Alfred Molina is phenomenal as the egomaniacal actor Jeremy Burtom as a man who is quite full of himself and isn’t aware that he’s just a hack. Finally, there’s the duo of Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt in remarkable performances in their respective roles as Arthur and Maurice as two unemployed struggling actors trying to get work where an awkward moment with Burtom leads them to accidentally stow away on a cruise where they do whatever they can to hide as they use their acting skills to save them.

The Impostors is a sensational film from Stanley Tucci. Featuring a great cast, amazing set pieces, lively music, and a willingness to just let loose and have fun. It’s a film that is aware that it’s being indulgent while giving the actors a chance to just act out and be funny. In the end, The Impostors is a spectacular film from Stanley Tucci.

Stanley Tucci Films: (Big Night) - (Joe Gould’s Secret) - (Blind Date (2007 film))

© thevoid99 2016


Brittani Burnham said...

I've never seen this but I really like that cast. I hope I get the chance to check it out someday. Great review!

thevoid99 said...

Thank you. It's such a fun film. You just watch it because you get to see great actors just over-act and have fun.

ruth said...

I haven't seen this yet, but I like the two leads, esp. in comedies.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-If you have Starz/Encore, check it out. It's really funny.