Monday, April 18, 2016

Talking Tribeca: The Fixer

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 13th-24th.

The Fixer
Directed by Ian Olds
Festival Screenings

Adjusting to a new culture is a challenge, especially if the place or function one occupies in one place does not exist in the other. Celebrating new freedoms and opportunities can overcome a lack of purpose, though that’s not always a guarantee. In “The Fixer,” Osman (Dominic Rains), an Afghan “fixer” who served as a guide and liaison of sorts for journalists in his native country, arrives in California expecting a job as a reporter to find that there is nothing more than the crime blotter available at a very low rate. Not one to lose out on the experience, Osman embraces his new profession - which pays a mere fifty dollars per week - with the utmost enthusiasm.

Osman is first introduced sitting next to Gloria (Melissa Leo) watching a strange play. Their relationship is made clearer in the next scene, as Gloria, the town sheriff, emphasizes that Osman should make himself at home since he formed a bond with her reporter son, who is still actively working in dangerous areas of Afghanistan. Osman’s efforts to make the crime blotter more than it is lead him to interact with the unpredictable Lindsay (James Franco) and to be transfixed by the allure of Sandra (Rachel Brosnahan), the star of the play. As Osman eagerly begins to adapt to this new culture, events around him spiral out of his control.

The tone and mood of “The Fixer” are difficult to describe, since Osman comes from a large country on the other side of the world and there is something so small and insular about the area to which he has now arrived. It’s almost as if Osman shapes the events that occur in his new place of residence, transforming minor crime details that barely even pass for interesting and making them far more fantastical. With that comes violence and an eerie, foreboding feel that can’t really be described as suspenseful because its pace is relatively slow.

There are a few award-winning actors in this cast, including Oscar winner Leo, Oscar nominee Franco, and Emmy nominee Brosnahan. The three of them all represent the links to Osman’s new home, each with his or her own separate allure. Leo is the least dynamic of the three, while Franco is on full unhinged mode and Brosnahan is far happier and more aloof than her “House of Cards” character ever was. Iranian actor Rains is the real standout of the film, sympathetic and enthusiastic in a way that involve too much energy, anchoring a movie that is intriguing throughout but doesn’t ultimately travel in a gripping direction.


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