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Love the Hard Way

A teeny little award for Best Actor at the Academy Awards changed Adrien Brody's life forever. Love the Hard Way is the first post-Oscar film to hit the screens, although it was filmed before his award-winning role in The Pianist. This makes Brody's (The Affair of the Necklace) here especially interesting, since he has not acquired the arrogance some actors do after winning such an award. In other words, with heightened interest in Brody's career, this is a chance to see him doing work as if nothing were different. Brody's career consists of a variety of different roles, with the only similarity being that his characters always seem like they are on the fringe of something, and they have pretty bizarre hair. As Jack, Brody plays a con artist, who, with his friend Charlie (Jon Seda, Undisputed, King Rikki) specialize in scams where they burst in on unsuspecting johns. They dress as cops, and bribe the men in exchange for letting them go.

Brody is intense, bringing an edgy quality to Jack, but the script by Peter Sehr (Obsession, Kaspar Hauser) and Marie Noelle (Obsession) is so dull and mechanical that he can act as good as he wants, but the movie is still boring. The same goes for Charlotte Ayanna (Spun, Kate & Leopold), an actress who will get her due sooner or later. On a purely superficial level, she is absolutely gorgeous. She combines these good looks with an ability to delve deeper into her characters, giving them personality and allowing people to care about who she plays. Another good performance in an otherwise lame movie. Ayanna is Claire, the opposite of Jack in every way. She is a smart college student majoring in biology, on track for good things in her future. Jack and Claire meet, and fall deeply in love.

Jack tries to play everything off like he doesn't care, and initially, this is probably the case. Claire refuses to believe his act, and keeps coming back, much to Jack's annoyance. The rest of the film has each influencing the other. Jack truly does love Claire, and his love for spurs him to rethink his career conning men. That, and the fact that undercover agent (Pam Grier, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Bones) is gettting closer to nabbing him. He has aspirations to be a writer, and sometimes writes in a cramped storage shed he rents. Claire believes that the only way to truly understand Jack and to hold onto him is to be more like him. She begins shunning her studies and dabbling in some unsavory pastimes.

This is probably the most implausible and tedious portion of Love the Hard Way. It turns two capable actors into whiny complainers, and Sehr (who also directed) sees no good way out. Events happen just like everybody expects they would, and end exactly the same way. It was fascinating at the beginning watching two people warily circle each other, testing each other to see if they could see behind each other's facade, but Sehr quickly abandons this and goes for rote movie plotting. Another similarity between Brody's movies is that while his acting may be consistently above average, his movie selections tend to be a little under.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 44 minutes, Not Rated but contains language and sexual situations, an R.

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