Film Review: Tiptoes

It’s fair to say that from time to time we all go through phases, we all go through those periods where we become almost obsessed, locked if you will, to a specific actor or genre. We only watch romantic comedies or animated classics or franchise films. Often we don’t like to admit to our random addictions, I grew up on Adman Sandler’s back catalogue and went through a phase where I couldn’t get enough to Kate Beckinsale. Serendipity, Brokedown Palace, Tiptoes and even Pearl Harbor.

It’s been a while since I last watched Tiptoes. It’s one of those films that for want of a better description is shy. It sits, happily, in my DVD collection always keeping its head down, it’s arm lowered, never really wanting to make eye contact when I’m searching for something to watch. I can’t explain why, but it somehow feels to me like the child in class, desperate for the teacher not to call out their name. And I don’t understand why? Because while it’s not the type of movie that will shake the core of the ground upon which I stand, it’s a pleasant movie that deserves a bit more courage.

Matthew McConaughey, Kate Beckinsale & Gary Oldman - Tiptoes

This sense I have that Tiptoes is a film that, as the expression goes, wants to be seen but not heard means I’ve always felt slightly uneasy about it. I’ve always accepted it’s reluctance and passed it over, never overly drawn to watch it which is strange because on paper it should be a decent film. It stars Gary Oldman, Matthew McConaughey, Patricia Arquette and the aforementioned Kate Beckinsale. A safe and talented cast. And yet because it’s exudes this sense of reclusiveness I never fully commit to it.

I think it’s biggest problem though is that it’s not actually shy as so much as scared. It’s taken a really simple story, moral questions about honesty and love, acceptance and life, and set them into a delicate world – dwarfism. This means it could easily fall into a tone of mocking derision, it could easily become stereotypical but it never does. And in fact, it actually handles things so well that you completely forget that 90% of the cast are little people, it shows you the truth, they are just people, the result being that it’s story oozes out the screen and invites you warmly and friendly in.

Patricia Arquette - Tiptoes

Sadly though, while it asks you in, it never manages to get you across the threshold. The story is a lovely and clever personification of the questions it is looking to answer, the facts it is looking to present and you can see how each the characters is constructed to fit into the story as a whole but it never gets under your skin. I never felt moved by the characters, I never really questioned them, or understood their motives. It was just factual and metaphorically static. I liked it but it never made me feel anything.

It also predates the casts’ rise to award ceremony success, by a long way, and while McConaughey shows glimpses of the talent waiting to appear, it is still hidden under the surface. Arquette is more madcapped window dressing to a side plot than anything that really involves sustained focus or added value to the film as a whole and while everything is centred on Beckinsale, she simply turns in another steady six-out-of-ten performance. It’s good but not great. It’s poor but not bad.

Kate Beckinsale & Gary Oldman - Tiptoes

Gary Oldman, however, is the real star. Tiptoes is a low budget film and there are times when his shortening is obviously and poorly hidden, but it doesn’t actually matter how comedic his appearance occasionally is because, it’s the inflections of his voice that make his performance. You forget the visual elements of the film because Oldman forces you to see past them. It’s not a performance that raises the film up, but it is enough to cement it’s position and hold everything together.

Tiptoes is inoffensive but lacklustre. It’s unemotional yet thought provoking and it’s a hidden story in the filmography of some big name actors that sadly, will just gather dust in DVD collections, because ultimately it just fails to reach the grade.

6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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