Few actors are as efficient conveying misanthropy as Peter Dinklage. Along with his arch line readings and endlessly expressive face, the actor excels at portraying broken souls possessing an underlying vulnerability. It’s what makes him so good for the starring function within the new movie scripted by Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures) through which he performs an embittered financial professor desperately trying to find happiness however failing miserably at each flip. American Dreamer, not too long ago showcased because the opening evening movie of the Fort Lauderdale Worldwide Movie Pageant, is the form of acerbic black comedy that seems like a throwback to the extra cinematically daring Seventies period.
Dinklage performs Philip Loder, an economics professor at a New England college whose lectures primarily include indignant screeds about social inequality. Philip pertains to the topic personally, since he solely earns $50,000 a 12 months and doesn’t have the tenure that might guarantee job safety. In his spare time, he works on a novel however principally desires in regards to the form of fancy actual property that he’s in no place to remotely afford. He attends open home showings of luxurious properties hosted by his actual property dealer good friend Dell (an amusingly droll Matt Dillon) who places up with Philip’s presence despite the fact that he enjoys scaring off potential consumers.
The Backside Line
A witty darkish comedy.
Philip, who additionally engages in a wealthy fantasy life involving the romantic attentions of two attractive younger ladies who dote on him, thinks that his dream of proudly owning an expensive dwelling would possibly come to fruition when he turns into conscious of a deal that appears too good to be true. It entails a palatial waterfront mansion being bought for “$5 million as is, or $240,00 with live-in.” It’s owned by the aged, childless widow Astrid Finnelli (Shirley MacLaine), who will promote on the cheaper price underneath the situation that she’s allowed to stay in the home for the remainder of her life.
Assured by Dell that he shouldn’t have to attend lengthy to take sole possession for the reason that wheelchair-bound Astrid is “actively dying,” Philip cashes in all his financial savings and sells all of his possessions to boost the mandatory funds and strikes into the home’s decrepit servants’ quarters. A lot to his chagrin, he quickly discovers that Astrid, slightly than being at loss of life’s door, is a spry senior who appears the image of well being. And that she has really a number of grownup kids, together with Maggie (Kimberly Quinn), an legal professional who makes it very clear that she has no intention of letting Philip get away with the deal.
The movie, loosely primarily based on a true-life section of the radio present This American Life, has a definite Harold and Maude black-comedy vibe in its depiction of the connection between Astrid and Philip. It begins out frosty however ultimately develops right into a heat friendship and even love after he winds up saving her life on a couple of event, although letting her die could be in his personal self-interest.
In the meantime, Philip, who appears to be irresistible to ladies, finds himself repeatedly falling into mattress — first with a 30-year-old graduate pupil (Michelle Mylett) in an informal relationship that threatens to destroy his profession after she informs Philip’s division head (Danny Pudi, Neighborhood), after which with Maggie regardless of their earlier animosity.
Director Paul Dektor, making his characteristic debut, doesn’t show absolutely profitable in navigating the story’s abrupt tonal shifts and inconsistencies, which embrace a number of of the characters seeming to alter their personalities on the drop of a hat. The movie juggles just a few too many components, together with a subplot involving an simply shocked non-public detective (splendidly performed by Danny Glover), and overindulges in slapstick humor because the endlessly unfortunate Philip suffers quite a few accidents because of mishaps with, amongst different issues, a scalding bathe and window air-conditioner.
However it additionally has many hilarious moments due to Melfi’s witty screenplay that includes a plethora of very humorous one-liners particularly delivered to perfection by the 2 stars. The effortlessly charismatic Dinklage makes you root for his character regardless of his many flaws and hangdog demeanor, whereas MacLaine, nonetheless a drive of nature at age 88, shows crack comedian timing honed by 67 years (!) of big-screen expertise. They’re a pleasure to observe in a movie that doesn’t absolutely reside as much as its appreciable thematic ambitions however presents substantial pleasures alongside the way in which.