Thursday, January 28, 2016

A movie star meets his demon

Mojave is the kind of failed movie that offers occasional glimpses of what might have been, most of them concentrated in Oscar Isaac's impressively inflated performance as Jack, a dangerous loner who encounters a dispirited movie star (Garrett Hedlund) who has taken a solitary trip to the desert. Headland's character seems to be engaged in a metaphoric pity party: He wants to escape the pressures of fame that have plagued him since his teen years. Jack may quote Shakespeare, but he comes on like a demon sent to taunt Hedlund's Thomas. In a line that sounds more like it derives from a term paper than a living character, Jack tells Thomas he's into "motiveless malignity." After a pivotal incident, Thomas returns to LA, but we know that Jack won't be far behind, and that he'll bring violence with him. It's possible to view Jack as more a figment of Thomas' imagination than a real character. After all, Thomas has been living an unreal celebrity life for years. Writer/director William Monahan, who wrote the screenplay for The Departed, can't quite balance this screenplay's contempt for Hollywood with elements of film noir and silly bursts of intellectualism. Whatever is intended, Mojave proves only intermittently arresting.

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