Moments of escape can be moments of clarity!

"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Heartfelt, but slightly stifled"

My Reel of the Week is 2005's "NEO NED".
Ned (Jeremy Renner) never really stood a chance for a normal life. He yearned for a Father, who looked upon him with pride. He needed a Mother who was attentive, strong & loving. He struck out on all counts. What he did get, was a Father who's idea of nurturing, consisted of Ned taking  trips to the local prison to visit him & having his Father dispense advice from behind a pane of glass.
His Mother, uses Ned's emotional Floundering & frequent legal troubles to boost her own self esteem and to gain evermore chances for that elusive 15 minutes of fame.
Ned is on a constant search for acceptance & a sense of belonging. He thinks he has found it, when he stumbles upon a group of Neo Nazi's.
But what he thinks is acceptance, turns into a nightmare of murder, humiliation & false bravado. That night of wrong turns, lands Ned in Court and from there to a Mental Hospital.
During his stay there, he meets Rachael (Gabrielle Union). A young Black woman who is hospitalized after severe Post-Partum Depression. She is convinced that she has been reincarnated as Adolf Hitler.
This most unlikely pair start to form a bond, which abruptly ends when Ned is suddenly discharged due to lack of funds.
He finds himself unable to let Rachael go. She represents a new start, a chance at that elusive, tenuous thing called "normalcy", or Ned's vision of it. They decide to strike out on their own , but quickly find out , that the broken pieces, just below the skin have sharp edges that tear & rip away all hope of happiness. That "Normal" is an illusion.
NEO NED, held promise & wanted to be bigger than it ultimately was. The story didn't elevate itself. It didn't dive into the deep end of the pool.
Jeremy Renner (Ned) was held back by the dialogue that was at times trite & hokey. He had moments that gave me a glimpse of the actor he has become.
Gabrielle Union (Rachael) has some really nice moments. When Rachael spoke of her past & her child, you were taken in. But like Ned (Jeremy Renner), the dialogue held her back, with it's pedestrian quality.  Keeping the plot predictable & holding the characters back.
 Jeremy & Gabrielle had real chemistry, but it seemed restrained. I don't know if it was a writing problem or a director problem. Especially sad because the subject matter begged for something more.
What I loved the most about NEO NED, was the promise of what it could have been. 

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