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USA 2014
Directed by
David Gordon Green
97 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Sandwiched between The Humbling (2014) and Danny Collins (2015) to form a trio of films in which Al Pacino plays a senior citizen raging against the dying of the light, Manglehorn is the strongest of the three offerings.

Angelo Manglehorn (Pacino) is an elderly locksmith living in a small Texas town. A loner who  cares more for his cat than any human being he has never gotten over driving off his one true love but is finally coming to reassess his life, particularly his relations with his son (Chris Massina) and a teller (Holly Hunter) at his local bank.

David Gordon Green’s film was pretty much dismissed on its release as a maudlin indulgence but, particularly if you know the director‘s auteurial style (which has nothing to in common with his more commercial projects like Pineapple Express) it is an engagingly impression portrait of a lost soul seeking redemption.  It also offer a  relatively rare indication these days that Al Pacino can still act. Compare his performance here with that in either of the other two films mentioned  to see the difference between him playing up or playing down his standard persona and him creating a character.  Partly credit for this must go to first-time writer Paul Logan but Manglehorn whilst not far from the Pacino persona is a believable little man, a mixture of charm and empathy, intolerance and aggression, sociable and reclusive with a streak of the eccentric.

The film itself is not much more than a series of vignettes loosely bound together with Green, with the help of his regular cinematographer, Tim Orr, and composer, David Wingo (with contributions from Explosions in the Sky) creating a characteristically impressionistic and slightly surreal portrait of a man in crisis and tentatively feeling his way out of the dead end that he has created for himself.  It is a beautifully composed and  poignant study that only jars somewhat in the rather contrived scenes between Manglehorn and his son (albeit not as badly as the equivalents scenes in Danny Collins). These are however offset by the success of those between Pacino and Hunter whose Dawn has a crush on the self-preoccupied old codger.

Some films just seem to be unlucky and Manglehorn is one of them. It’s a modest, low key affair that deserves much better treatment, both critically and commercially, than it received.on release




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