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MR AND MRS SMITH

SYNOPSIS:
John and Jane Smith (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) are an ordinary suburban couple with an ordinary, lifeless suburban marriage - on the verge of divorce. Each is hiding something the other would kill to know: Mr. and Mrs. Smith are highly paid, superbly efficient assassins, and they work for competing organisations. And that's only one of the lies that lie between them. Mr. and Mrs. Smith discover a new source of excitement in their marriage, when they're ordered to assassinate each other.

Review by Mrs Urban:
A sexy action romp with the impossibly beautiful Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Mr and Mrs Smith is a sizzler. The sizzle factor is the hottest part of Mr and Mrs Smith, whose appeal lies first and foremost in the sexual chemistry between Brad and Angelina. On screen they may play plain John and Jane Smith, but of course, there's nothing plain about either Brad or Angelina, Hollywood's ultimate eye candy. Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) delivers pace and action, although eventually the action scenes become rather monotonous in the final reel.

The plot is wildly over the top, but the script works the premise rather well, delivering both inspired lines and moments when we laugh knowingly at the nebulous institution of marriage, which is what the film is all about. 'We'll talk about this later,' John mumbles, when Jane accidentally knifes him in the leg, and in another scene, he snarls that it may not be a good idea for Jane to undermine him in front of their hostage. There's plenty of black irony in Jane's supposition that 'Happy endings are just stories that haven't finished yet.'

Mr and Mrs Smith is certainly an enticing escapist film. The notion of putting two assassins from competing agencies in one marital bed is delicious, and we are quickly brought up to date with John and Jane's relationship during the past five or six years, from the time they met in Colombia, share their first kiss in the rain to their nightly pre-dinner dry martini at 7. The plot is not the surprise; it is all about HOW John and Jane learn about each other and HOW HIGH the temperature rises between Brad and Angelina. Onscreen together, they make the perfect couple, as they jostle physically and verbally. The banter is playful and anyone who has ever had a relationship will relate to the ongoing everyday situations. 'If you don't like the new curtains, we can take them back' Jane cooes with her classic rosebud mouth. But when John says 'I don't like them,' Jane simply smiles and says 'You'll get used to them.'

When we first meet them in their perfect home in New York, they are leading a routine, rather mechanical life. Although how routine and mechanical anyone can consider Jane, wearing a tight skirt and stilettos, adjusting the drapes from the arms of a swinging rocking chair, is academic. Neither knows of the other's stash - John has guns hidden in his tool shed, and Jane keeps a secret supply of razor-sharp knives locked in a cache in her oven. They each guard their secret life as an assassin carefully, making regular nightly excursions alone. It's amusing to see the close calls, like the scene when Jane quickly changes from her tight, black leather dominatrix outfit (part of a hit disguise) into a pretty pink dress for a soiree at a neighbour's house.

The action scenes are as wild as the premise, with cars flying in the air, big explosions, car chases and extravagant stunts. The action, driven by a thrilling score, is eye-popping stuff and if you are ready for this outrageous extravagance of plot and Hollywood excess that makes humorous but shrewd observations about marriage, you will have a ball. Take your partner - you will no doubt laugh knowingly together at the super sharp observations about relationships.

Review by Mr. Urban:
Swinging wildly between amusing and silly, Mr and Mrs Smith often comes close to self parody in its quest for fast and familiar laughs, mostly born out of the conflicted marriage. Of course, it is totally divorced from reality, so it's pointless carping about the film's hyper ventilating style. You either go along with the High Concept concept, or you go.

Even so, the film does drag by the time it winds up the third act, and the joke wears a little thin. Mr Brad Pitt Smith and Mrs Angelina Jolie Smith have a love hate relationship, in which they love to hate each other. That's after they discover they are on opposite sides of a hit contract business. We never know who their employers are, or why they have so many targets, but it seems a highly lucrative business and they live the good life in a sumptuous suburban house, where, to all the neighbours, they seem just like the rest of the neighbours. None of the other neighbours look so good or have such fancy wardrobe, mind you, but we're the only ones to notice that.

The action takes a while to get going, as writer Simon Kinberg relishes the relationship angst between the couple as they bicker and stay distant. But this couple's counselling sessions are full of cool, hip dialogue, so it can't be serious. And even when things do get serious and they are trying to kill each other, it's still not to be taken seriously. So much so that the tension is at half mast, but at least the technicals are great, from the music to the production design. I only wish the cinematography was more conventional; the tight close ups and hand held work, coupled with the dizzy editing take away much of the big picture and leaves the audience watching blur. Some of the dialogue is also blur.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie enjoy themselves and the fun they have is infectious. Funny, sometimes exciting and often amusing, Mr and Mrs Smith is like a typical marriage, in fact, with a few highs strung together by long stretches of ho hum. But it's a crowd pleaser and some married couples will get a nice bite out of it. Who knows, it may even be therapeutic.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

MR AND MRS SMITH (M)
(US, 2005)

CAST: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Elijah Alexander, Theresa Barrera, Angela Bassett, Ron Bottitta

PRODUCER: Lucas Foster, Akiva Goldsman, Eric McLeod, Arnon Milchan, Patrick Wachsberger

DIRECTOR: Doug Liman

SCRIPT: Simon Kinberg

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bojan Bazelli

EDITOR: Michael Tronick

MUSIC: John Powell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeff Mann

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 9, 2005

UPCOMING EVENT
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney.

Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.







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