Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Hoblit

It's interesting how Hollywood has a crop of unsung directors. They get steady work (usually in both movies and TV) and can make hits in different genres, but they don't win awards and aren't entrusted with any franchise properties. (In baseball, they might be called utility players.)

One good example is Jon Turtletaub. He made Cool Runnings, While You Were Sleeping, Phenomenon, Disney's The Kid, and National Treasure. Yet this may be the first time you've heard his name. Another example is Gregory Hoblit, who directed Primal Fear, Fallen, and Frequency, along with many Steven Bochco TV shows. I saw an advanced screening of his latest film, Fracture.

The title refers to the microscopic cracks you find in someone else in order to undermine them, and is central to the cat-and-mouse game played by a suspected wife murderer (Anthony Hopkins) and the assistant DA assigned to prosecute him (Ryan Gosling). The audience, in turn, tries to solve the mystery: where's the fracture in this seemingly perfect crime? I liked my solution better than the actual one, but I'll reveal neither here.

Other actors do appear in the film, but you stay focused on these two. Despite the sizable difference in age and experience, both actors are clearly slumming a little, and yet each is still pretty good. Hopkins' accent slips into his native Welsh at times for no discernable reason, but you know he's resisting every urge to re-enact Hannibal Lecter. Gosling, meanwhile, goes with a drawl and appears more comfortable. (I didn't realize we needed another Edward Norton, but I suppose it's nice to have some insurance.)

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