It is fitting that the performances are the strongest assets in Smart People, a character-driven film about family dysfunction. Its cynical, dark humour and blending of misanthropy and humanity is reminiscent of the films of Alexander Payne. The characters are unusual and challenging, at once unlikeable and sympathetic. Dennis Quaid is remarkably uncompromising and brave in his portrayal of the pompous, numbly suffering professor who’s lost his sense of purpose but comes to want a second chance at life. In some scenes, Quaid seems to channel Jack Nicholson at his sardonic best. Ellen Page is also excellent as the anal, dismissive daughter, worlds away from the plucky, adorable misfit she was in Juno. Like his role in Payne’s Sideways, Thomas Haden Church plays an irresponsible free spirit with more depth than initially meets the eye. Sarah Jessica Parker gives a subtle, layered performance as the conflicted, emotionally-distant, commitmentphobe girlfriend. Ashton Holmes is impressive as the raging but perhaps most well-adjusted member of the family. All the actors succeed wonderfully in revealing that their characters' unpleasant behaviours stem from unacknowledged, festering pain.
|7/10||lydaberger@ - 44 reviews|
13.4.2008 - age: 36-49
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