Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Weird, wild (and sometimes bloody) fun: Hadi Hajaig's nutty caper comedy, BLUE IGUANA

At the beginning of TrustMovies' viewing experience of BLUE IGUANA, the new humorous heist film from British writer/director Hadi Hajaig, he thought, Oh, god -- this is going to be just too cute, ridiculous and heavy-handed to even finish: a clashing combo of American and British accents and humor so off-the-wall, it's practically out the window. But then -- and faster than he would ever have expected -- the movie began to win him over. Completely. By the end he and his spouse were treasuring every moment. What a pleasure it can be when a film starts so "iffily" and then seduces you utterly.

If you appreciate bizarre and over-the-top performances, nicely completed by quieter, more grounding ones from the two romantic leads, along with a set design and "look" that are sometimes knock-your-socks-off spectacular, this may be the entertainment you crave. And on the big screen, too: art direction like this deserves to be seen in large proportion.

This kind of film is very difficult to pull off, but Mr. Hajaig (shown at left) has certainly managed it.  Here is crazy, gorgeous, blood-spattered hilarity -- with terrific performances from an entire cast.

Blue Iguana is the sort of movie in which, I kid you not, matricide will have never seemed so funny. Nor deserved.

The plot, which, to go too far into would simply confuse the reader, involves a couple of American pals -- Sam Rockwell and Ben Schwartz (above, right and left, respectively) recently released from prison, who are asked (in a kind of combo of plea and blackmail) by a prim and mousy little British girl (Phoebe Fox, below, in what - were this not a small indie film -- would be a breakout performance) to assist her in an illegal money-making project back in England.

They do and, in the process, get involved with an array of bizarre and very funny characters and situations, the likes of which neither they nor we have much seen. Even in crazy caper comedies like this one.

There is plenty of violence and bloodshed, but this is all done with such over-the-top humor and disarray, that you will most likely find your self laughing instead of averting your eyes. Really: you won't want to miss all the fun.

That fun includes a character actor I've often seen but until this

memorable role not really been able to recall: Peter Ferdinando (above), who plays a nutjob named Deacon Bradshaw, whose mother (a grand turn by Amanda Donohoe) proves even nuttier and nastier. Roles like this don't come around all that often for most actors, and Mr. Ferndinando gives it all that it deserves and then a bit more.

Lovely supporting turns come from everyone from Simon Callow to Frances Barber, Peter Polycarpou and Al Weaver, and the movie simply grows crazier and funnier as it moves along.

Ms Fox gets one of those ugly-duckling-to-swan moments that will give you a nice gasp, while Mr. Rockwell, in only his second screen appearance since his "Oscar" win, is reliably terrific. Using his intuitive knack for a combo of humor and gravitas, he keeps the film somehow grounded, while all around him (except the lovely Ms Fox) are going bananas.

Mr. Schwartz (above) turns weird into something kind of wonderful, and the movie's playful nods to so many other movies register as sweet fun instead of seeming merely aren't-we-clever. Mr. Hajaig's understanding of how nearly everyone wants to be, see or know an actor is put to delightful use, too, in a finale that could hardly be cuter or more on the nose.

 If I'm over-praising this little trifle, it's only because I had such a good time. Give Blue Iguana even half a chance, and I think you will, too.

From Screen Media Films and running 100 minutes, the movie opens this Friday, August 24, in New York City at the Village East Cinema and in Los Angeles at Laememle's Monica Film Center. To see all  currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters, click here and scroll down. Simultaneously with the theatrical release, the film will also hit VOD.

No comments: