Film Review: Life Of Crime

Let’s be honest, the only thing that drew me to this film was the inclusion of Jennifer Aniston, and that mainly because as a child who spent his teenage years living through the 1990s, she will be forever Rachel. And while in one respect it amazes me, it also doesn’t surprise me that none of the cast of Friends have managed to transition away successfully from the shackles of such a high profile programme but none the less, I always view each attempt with renewed belief, that this may, in fact, be the time.

Unfortunately though, Life of Crime will not be Aniston’s big break. Simply because it is rubbish. At it’s heart is a plot that has the potential to be clever, fresh and entertaining but is handled with such doubt that it spends most of the film in a sense of self deprecating disbelief. Which is such a shame, because with a little bit more conviction, this film could have easily raised the bar a few levels.

Because it’s sights are set so low, it ends up feeling almost apologetic. You truly can feel this sense of every twist, turn or cut being followed by a sheepish look at the floor and a mumbled “I’m sorry….”; there is even an impression that it’s been set in the bakelite and beige era of the 1970s more as a preemptive justification of it’s failing than any useful narrative point. It manages to pull off this trick of being set in an era that doesn’t serve to add anything of note to the film and yet you can’t imagine it being set during any other time. It’s just blends everything together without drawing any attention to itself.

Mos Def & John Hawkes - Life Of Crime

Once you’ve accepted that sadly the story in which everything takes place isn’t going to be anything like as strong as it should be you things turn you attention to the cast, and Aniston specifically, which creates another problem. Chemistry. Or in fact, the complete lack of it emanating from our leading lady. It’s not a case that she appears better than everyone, because the rest of the cast: Isla FisherWill ForteTim RobbinsJohn Hawkes are all big enough names to cope but rather, she just feels excluded. The supporting cast feel as though they’ve met each other before, it may not be an attractive world in which they live, but they do feel part of it. Aniston, however, just feels out of place, out of time and out of character.

Combing it’s plot issues and lack of connection between the cast meant that there is no tension in this film. It just monotonously bumbles along, never changing pace and therefore never moving you or racing the resting heart beat. In fact, I’d go as far as to say there is such a looming void of emotion that you start to wonder exactly what angle this film is trying to take. IMDb list this as a comedy, but since I never laughed once, you almost wonder if somebody forgot the jokes which writing the script?

Honestly the longer Life of Crime went on, the more disappointed I became, because there is a good story trying to get out. And in fact, the only time this film comes to life, and gains any sense of personality the credits instantly role. It was almost the cliffhanger in reverse scenario, teasing the proof they could have made it a better film, if they’ve wanted to but snatching it away before you demand they do.

Bradley Cooper & Christian Bale - American Hustle

Overall, Life of Crime needed a stronger hand in it’s directing chair. You can’t help but feel that this was meant to be Daniel Schechter’s big break, his coming of age, when all it’s done is sadly show that he was a little bit too out of his depth. For me, all it’s underlying problems stem from a lack of inner belief and strength. And this has to come from a director, who was in exactly that situation and most likely facing all those emotions and doubts. While, I fully accept that Life Of Crime was always going to suffer as a result of trying to follow American Hustle, which really took 1970s extortionist film making to a new level, but it could have easily aimed for second place, pushed a little harder and made it, but instead aimed for simply not coming last and succeeded. Just.

6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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