Monday, April 26, 2010

Don McKay (2010)

At a glance:
Despite moments of originality, Don McKay is undone by its combination of comic tone and glacial pacing, and by its unbelievable conclusion

Our review (with spoilers):
Thomas Hayden Church’s Don McKay is a quiet, studious, sensitive man. His voice is calm but his face is always worried. Years ago, his affair with Sonny (Elisabeth Shue) ended, and he retreated into a lonely existence, far from the town where he grew up. But his love never died; each year he sent a letter to her, filling her in on his boring life, and not caring if no letters ever came back from the other direction.

So when, out of the blue, Sonny asks him to come to visit because she is dying, he’s there in a moment. It’s fairly obvious (to the viewer, anyway, though if it is obvious to Church, he hides it well behind his inscrutable mask-like face) that something is amiss with Sonny’s mystery fatal illness, Sonny’s live-in caregiver Marie (Melissa Leo), and Sonnny’s not-quite-right doctor, Dr. Pryce (James Rebhorn). Things get crazier very quickly with an unexpected attack and an accidental murder.

Glacially paced (or you could call it ‘unrushed’) and quiet, Don McKay the movie shows that director Jake Goldberger is in no hurry to tell his story. I’m not sure if there is quite enough style, or if the characters are strong or portentous enough to carry this pacing, since for the most part there’s a slight comic feel to the material. So the result is a bit like watching a screwball comedy played at half speed. A batch of clever and unlikely twists is shoehorned into the final ten minutes, but it’s way too late to redeem this watchable and unique but ultimately disappointing film.

Rating:  2.5 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"The tone and the pacing always seem a little off and as a result, we become all too aware of mechanics of the screenplay grinding along towards a finale that is simply too complicated and unbelievable for its own good."
- Peter Sobczynski (

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