Manglehorn (2014)

Drama
Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Chris Messina, Harmony Korine
Left heartbroken by the woman he loved and lost many years ago, Manglehorn, an eccentric small-town locksmith, tries to start his life over again with the help of a new friend.
Manglehorn boasts a nicely understated performance from Al Pacino, but that isn't enough to compensate for a slight story and uneven script.
  • IFC Films Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 03 Jun 2015 Released:
  • 05 Oct 2015 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Paul Logan Writer:
  • David Gordon Green Director:
  • N/A Website:

Trailer:

A Mangled Opportunity5/10
I had the chance to see this at the Toronto International Film Festival in early September and came away disappointed.

The movie is founded on a great premise and I was eager to see where it went. Playing a brooding, lonely old man obsessed with a past relationship seems like a good fit for the veteran Pacino. A sole proprietor key cutter was the perfect choice of profession for such a character. Giving Pacino full screen time was a good choice, as I can't recall a scene that didn't feature Pacino.

However, inconsistency in the Manglehorn character seems to overwhelm a good acting performance. Manglehorn seems at times senile or rude, and at other times the clever, likable character with good advice. It doesn't help that a good explanation for his obsession with a past relationship is lacking.

There are some solid random scenes and conversations, including Manglehorn's discussion with a child or the entertaining Korine telling stories of little league. These worthwhile scenes are surrounded by just as many scenes that fall flat and make you lose interest. Too often scenes are present as filler or make you feel like a better climax is due. Manglehorn's interactions with his son, played well by Chris Messina, feel like they belong in a different story arc.

I believe that Green has the ability to make a great, subtle film if it all comes together. In Manglehorn, the script Pacino is given and the characters he is surrounded with take him no where in particular, which is fine if you are entertained or enlightened throughout the film's duration. That's not the case here. Though the foundation was there, the payoff isn't worth the attention paid.
A Simple Story9/10
Manglehorn is in essence a small simple story. No CG-I, no huge twists or plot points but rather a amazingly woven story of a lonely man attempting to overcome the loss of his old love. Al Pacino plays a role very different from the norm, hes a sarcastic, sad and sometimes bitter old man who spends his days either alone at his locksmith or mourning over a love that "could have been". Without spoiling anything, Manglehorn our main character slowly learns to love life again with the help of a friend. David Gorden Green does an incredible job at making this simple story pop by making many almost surreal like scenes (Most notably the watermelon scene). There are even scenes that are downright poetic (Scenes sometimes play out as Manglehorn recites a poem in the back, this is better than it may sound). As the story progresses it get quite deep, going into interesting back-stories about Manglehorns family (Mostly about the father and son relationship) and even at times very magical elements are hinted at.

I was lucky enough to see Manglehorn at TIFF this past September. If you get the chance this is a film that needs to be seen.
A security lock7/10
Greetings again from the darkness. For those of us who grew up with 1970's cinema, it's been painful to watch Al Pacino's career over the last two decades … with only a couple of exceptions. We have longed for the actor who became Michael Corleone, and cringed with each outing that seemed to parody his Oscar winning performance in A Scent of a Woman (1983). Along comes the latest from director David Gordon Green and with it a reappearance of that actor so worshipped by John Travolta's character in Saturday Night Fever.

A.J. Manglehorn is an elderly locksmith who lives each day under his self-designed cloud of despair. His droopy eyes, droopy shoulders and droopy social skills are eclipsed only by his love for Fanny the cat, and his daily letters to Clara – the long lost love of his life. The only other signs of life in Mr. Manglehorn are displayed when he is telling a customer that it's time to wash their car, when he is hanging out with his granddaughter, or when he is exchanging Friday flirtations with bank teller Dawn (a sparkling Holly Hunter).

Director David Gordon Green is best known for comedies such as Pineapple Express (2008), The Sitter (2011), and TV's "Eastbound & Down", and while this one (filmed in Austin, Texas) has some awkward and offbeat comedic moments, it would have to be categorized as a drama. Symbolism is everywhere as Manglehorn keeps his emotions "locked" away from his snooty yuppie son (Chris Messina) and retreats into his imaginary relationship with Clara, rather than embracing Dawn's brave come-on.

There are a couple of extraordinary scenes … Pacino and Messina talking around, rather than about, their relationship and the type of men they are; and the excruciatingly awkward and heart-breaking first date between Pacino and Hunter. The forlorn Manglehorn remains behind the locked door and allows the shadow of his dream girl to cast a pall, despite having a real life dream girl sitting across the table.

Pacino recaptures his mastery of the close-up. Such emotion from so little apparent movement is the work of a once great master who proves he still has it. Some may be put off by the lack of big action, but these are people living life and trying to make the best of it. There is a line from the movie, "When you choose this life, there is no one". It's a line that tells us so much about Manglehorn's daily approach. Whether he finds the right key matters to us for one reason … Pacino makes us care.
An Enjoyable Character Study by a Great Actor7/10
Manglehorn was warmly received at Austin's SXSW Film Festival. It isn't Al Pacino's best work. Of course, he is no longer the Pacino of Dog Day Afternoon, Godfather, Serpico, Scarface, Scent of a Woman and Heat, but he is still better than most. The script is solid, but not extraordinary. The film is mostly a one-man show. However, I honestly believe I would enjoy watching a film about Al Pacino watching paint dry. Pacino is just a pleasure to watch even now as an aging legend his intense screen presence remains. He is remarkable to watch when he is changing a light bulb or feeding a cat. In this film he plays an elderly locksmith who has been wounded by a long lost love and is trying to learn how to trust again. His on-again off-again attempt to build a relationship with Holly Hunter and to reconnect with his estranged son – played by Chris Messina - is certainly enjoyable. Underneath his tough interior there seems to be a heart of gold that is often only shared with beloved cat. He has so often played larger than life characters, but here he has taken on a much more ordinary and blue collar identity. The charisma is still there, but so much more of the character's emotions are internalized. We are left to wonder about all the events that have led up to who he has become. Recommended for all fans of good drama and of one of the greatest actors of our time.
Over-direct much?3/10
A character piece about the life of one grumpy old, senile man. His issues are laid-out in grandiose & overly sentimental melodramatics. We as an audience are slowly dragged from sad set piece to sad set piece where the conclusions are obvious if only the film would spare us the "drama" and arrive at them already.

Manglehorn is an Indie that knows its an Indie and is closer to "Prince Avalanche" than any of the Directors other works. Al Pacino kills it here but instead of focusing on the solid dramatic acting, Green decided to over-direct this right into "trying to hard to be pretentious" territory.

Manglehorn is trying to re-connect with a long lost love while slowly driving away the things he does have in his life. He's struggling to be happy. Where in that the Director feels the need to have "LSD flashback" type sequences is lost on me.

It's not original nor refreshing to slowly plod an audience around in drab and everyday circumstances, throw some folk music or a harp in the background and call it "subdued" and "special". I don't need Jurassic Park Dinosaurs or anything but I don't need to see him feed his cat 37 times to realize he loves it. I don't need to see him get his mail 32 times before you get to the point of why. I just need Pacino, with something to chew on. I just need his character to fight these demons already. I just need his struggles, his journey and his resolution.

Instead you meandered for 90% of the film and slapped it together at the end with some attempt at an thoughtful ending that landed with about as much intrigue as a happy meal toy. What a wasted Pacino performance. 3/10