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LIFE OF CRIME

SYNOPSIS:
Fresh out of prison, where they bonded over their similar convictions for grand theft auto, Ordell (Yasiin Bey) and Louis (John Hawkes) have already decided to team up when they catch wind of Frank Dawson (Tim Robbins), a Detroit property developer and secret embezzler. Their plan is simple: they'll kidnap Frank's country-club wife, Mickey (Jennifer Aniston), and hold her for ransom. What the duo didn't count on is that Frank's affections have turned to his perky young mistress, Melanie (Isla Fisher), and he may not be in a rush to rescue his spouse.

Review by Louise Keller:
Filled with surprises, comic scenarios and a top cast as one scam shifts to another, this adaptation of Elmore Leonard's caper is bright, breezy and lots of fun. Like some of his earlier adaptations like Get Shorty (1995), Out of Sight (1998) and Be Cool (2005), this adaptation of Leonard's novel The Switch offers a similar quirkiness as unlikely relationships develop, bluffs are called and there is little difference between good and bad news. As for the characters, they're a varied bunch whose positions can turn as readily as the weather.

Set in 1978 Detroit, in the opening scenes, the characters of small-time crooks Louis (John Hawkes) and Ordell (Yasiin Bey, formerly called Mos Def) are established. There's a madcap impromptu nature about the way they behave and react to situations, showing that they will go to any lengths to get what they want. We then get a glimpse into the dishevelled, upmarket and unhappy lives of Frank (Tim Robbins) and Mickey (Jennifer Aniston) whose marriage menu comprises lies and cheating. Add to the mix, Frank's mistress Melanie (Isla Fisher), who is flexible in more ways than her sexual positions, Marshall (Will Forte), a wimpy admirer of Mickey's and Richard (Mark Boone Junior), a Nazi loving pervert, and the recipe for fun begins.

The plot involves a kidnapping, a Bahamas real estate scam, an ambitious mistress and a husband who can't be persuaded to cough up a ransom for a wife he doesn't want. Of course nothing goes to plan and the incongruous nature of events escalates throughout. I like the fact that the characters surprise us and behave in ways that are not predictable. Apart from the character of Mickey, around whom all the action takes place, everyone is flawed, but credit to Anniston, who brings a quiet determination and strength to the housewife who is far from a push-over. Hawkes is terrific and Boone is a hoot. It all begins with good source material and Daniel Schechter's screenplay hits all the marks. This Life of Crime is great fun.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

LIFE OF CRIME (MA15+)
(US, 2013)

CAST: Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes, Yasiin Bey, Mos Def, Isla Fisher, Will Forte, Mark Boone Junior, Tim Robbins, Clea Lewis, Charlie Tahan

PRODUCER: Ashok Amritraj, Elizabeth Destro, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Jordan Kessler, Michael Siegel, Lee Stollman

DIRECTOR: Daniel Schechter

SCRIPT: Daniel Schechter (novel The Switch by Elmore Leonard)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Alan Edwards

MUSIC: The Newton Brothers

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Inbal Weinberg

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 25, 2014







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