Review

Nobel Son Review

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Dec 04, 2008 | 9:40pm EST

This Nobel takes the prize for its ingenious blending of dark comedy into an insanely clever thriller. Thaddeus James (Shawn Hatosy) kidnaps Barkeley Michaelson (Bryan Greenberg) the 20-ish son of a chemistry Nobel Prize winner Eli Michaelson (Alan Rickman) demanding the prize money as ransom right on the eve of the prestigious presentation in Stockholm. This being a wicked tale of deception and familial dysfunction in the extreme you can probably guess the father doesn’t want to pay his precious $2 million prize money for the return of his son. But beware not everything in this intricately plotted thriller is always what it appears to be. Always watchable and surprising the wonderful Alan Rickman doesn’t disappoint -- delivering a wickedly funny performance as the woefully repugnant ego-maniacal and self-absorbed father who is more concerned with bedding his university students than in forging a relationship with his very intelligent but neglected son well played by Bryan Greenberg. Rickman dominates every scene he’s in with his amusing boorish behavior. As his deceptively smart wife  Mary Steenburgen has one of her best acting outings in years. It’s a shame this Oscar-winning actress doesn’t get choice roles anymore because when she does even in a small independent production like this she shows she still has it. Cameos abound but the crux of the movie belongs to Rickman and the two young actors Greenberg and Hatosy who make his life a wreck. Randall Miller who co-wrote the script with wife Jody Savin directs Nobel Sonwith a visual flair you never would have guessed from his previous films  Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School and this summer’s splendid comedy sleeper Bottle Shock. Here he clearly wants to channel Quentin Tarantino with body parts figuring prominently into the plot yet the director doesn’t let the MTV style visual trickery get in the way of the story he’s telling. Nobel Son mixes a lot of filmic influences but the indisputable highlight is an ingenious caper sequence involving Mini-Coopers that puts the recent The Italian Job to shame. It might not win any awards but it’s a highly entertaining way to spend an evening.

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