Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The blind are leading the blind once again in Ido Fluk's film about faith, THE TICKET

Down the decades we've seen a number of films that track the journey of a person from the world of the sighted into that of the blind (the most recent would probably be the documentary, Notes on Blindness, while one of the best narrative versions would have to be Eskil Vogt's amazing Blind). In THE TICKET, the new movie written and directed by Ido Fluk (shown below), however, we go in exactly the opposite direction, as a blind man suddenly and rather miraculously wakes up one morning with his sight completely intact.

Once the change occurs, the big questions that soon arise are whether or not our "hero" -- played by Dan Stevens, shown above and below, the most ubiquitous actor currently around, with two films opening just this week (the other is Colossal) plus another huge hit already in theaters and a hit TV show currently unspooling) -- will change and grow or simply become even more of the the prick he most definitely seems to already be.

The answer that filmmaker Fluk gives us is "yes" to both, as well as to several other questions raised by this earnest and all-too-obvious film.

These further questions involve why the miracle man's wife (Malin Akerman, below left) chose this guy with whom to make a life. There were other blind folk at the center she visited. Was he simply a "project" for her?  And what about his blind best friend and work mate, played by Oliver Platt (below, right)? Is this guy jealous of our hero's new eyesight, not to mention his wife and son? Yes, and yes again. But so what? All this is not really Mr. Fluk's point. No, his movie is all about faith, and what the lack of it can do, as is apparent from the story/joke told about god, prayer, and a lottery ticket, which is handed to us as the film opens, is repeated again midway and then once again -- just in case we didn't get the point.

You can pray all you want but you can't win the prize if you don't have enough faith to first purchase the ticket. There is undoubtedly a way to make this lesson apply and adhere to a fictional story, but Fluk has not found it. The characterizations of everyone -- hero on down -- are paltry and the movie is glacially paced. The performances are part and parcel with the characterizations: only as good as the enormous lack of detail that the filmmaker provides. This includes those of Kerry Bishé (as the "other woman") and Skylar Gaertner (below, left) as the protagonist's young son. Worse, we have no clue what kind of guy our protag was before he got his sight. In terms of real characterization, this movie comes as close to running on empty as any I've recently seen.

Mr. Stevens is a very committed actor, and he is always as good as the role he is given. This is true here, too, though he's been handed the most embarrassing "breakdown" scene on film since poor Ewen Leslie's in The Daughter. As Stevens cries and moans and writhes and blubbers, you just want to scream, "Cut -- for Christ's sake, Cut!" If this movie is indeed about faith, it is so poorly conceived and executed that, by its end, audiences will find whatever faith they possess sorely tested -- if not knocked for a complete loop.

From Shout! Factory and running a too-long 100 minutes, The Ticket opens this Friday, April 7, in New York City at the Cinema Village and simultaneously On Demand most everywhere else.

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