Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Big White (2005)

Strong black comedy in the vein of Double Indemnity and Fargo involving Robin Williams as an Alaskan citizen trying to outsmart Giovanni Ribisi, an insurance agent, to collect his missing, and presumed dead, brother's life insurance. This one was DTV, and, while I understand the lack of popularity black comedies have with mass audiences, it is truly a shame, because there is a lot of energy and originality here. The humor is not wholly derived from the extremes of the macabre and the tediously normal, like Fargo, but rather from the desperation and alienation of the characters. While all of them are distinct characters, and register in their own way, they do not succumb to caricature; there is no hammy Frances Mcdormand sounding significantly more mannered and exaggerated than her costars. It helps that the cast is quite exceptional: aside from strong turns from the two leads, Holly Hunter (hilarious as Williams' Tourette's-ridden wife), Woody Harrelson, Alison Lohman, and Tim Blake Nelson all turn in very real, funny work here. However, the film never becomes a quirky ensemble comedy a la Big Trouble (which I actually like) or (god forbid) Drowning Mona, and maintains interest by taking its central plot seriously and making the stakes dramatically high without compromising the comedic tone of the movie.

Reccommended for fans of Fargo-esque black comedies, or Holly Hunter. This did not deserve the fate it got, but perhaps its off-kilter, high-tension style could only find its audience through dvd...and blogs like this.

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