August 19, 2016

The Limey

Steven Soderbergh, 1999
There’s a reason that film schools study The Limey. Its taking a simple premise and building a sophisticated visual construct around that premise. Something that amateur filmmakers wouldn’t be capable of doing. But someone like Soderbergh can. Soderbergh is one of the more prolific directors working, maybe the most. And I will admit right off the bat, I consider him to be a bit overrated. I am not a fan of all of Soderbergh’s films. While everyone raves about Out of Sight, I am not one of those people. I didn’t care for it. I thought Contagion was dull. I thought Gina Carrano’s distractingly bad acting killed Haywire, which felt too much like Out of Sight for me at times. In fact, in memory the two movies blend together for me in my mind. Girlfriend Experience felt empty and forgettable. And the Ocean’s sequels just lacked that same allurement that the first one had. But then there’s the original Ocean’s Eleven. One of the best remakes ever made. I saw it three times in the theater back in 2001. Side Effects was a really well crafted film, was really able to display some of Channing Tatum’s acting chops while giving Rooney Mara another avenue to display her natural abilities. Behind the Candelabra was an HBO release but that should have had a wide theatrical release. It’s unforgettable. That’s the thing with Soderbergh. You can rattle off a few of the films of his that you really care for and any director would kill to have those films in their filmography. He’s not out there to please everybody with every film. He takes risks and jumps around to vastly different material and that’s admirable.

You can really just boil down the plot of The Limey to a father wanting some closure for his daughter’s death. And Soderbergh is able to build this captivating, tense stylistic film around that premise. Precise editing, great performances, a hypnotic score with haunting piano, this sort of yellowish haze that seems to pour over the screen. It has remarks about social hierarchy and the whole wealthy class on the mountaintop. The complicated nature of a father and daughter relationship. There's even a subtle indictments of Hollywood and celebrity culture. In a sense the Limey is what Pierre Morel’s Taken would be in the hands of an auteur rather than an action director.

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