After one of the most bizarre career slumps in recent memory, David Gordon Green is back doing what we all knew he did best. This isn't the one-stop return to earlier glories which we hoped it might have been but it does represent another finely taken stride.
Manglehorn stars a resurgent 74 year old Al Pacino as a lonesome locksmith in love with a cat. He lives a solitary life in his rundown home; writing endless letters to an unresponsive old flame, while his wealthy son stays distant. He passes the time playing slots and eating dinner in fluorescent lit bars and sterile restaurants until a friendly bank clerk finds a way to squeeze into his life.
It's an enjoyable watch thanks to Pacino's old pro performance, and it does bare Gordon Green's quiet Texan stamp, but a vague, nagging unresolved feeling remains that we never really knew this man. When used well, ambiguity can be one of cinema's most powerful weapons, but Green's super stylized rhythms here work more to distract then enhance and a pretentious grand reveal late on does little to excite.
Green displays some of his more recent, less palatable tastes here- heavy dreamlike editing; an overuse of monologue-but he has returned to sort of scrap yard film making which once saw him hailed as American independent cinema's next big star. With Manglehorn, alongside Joe and Prince Avalanche (prize winners over the last two years in Venice and Berlin respectfully), however, the Texan is certainly back on track.
Manglehorn is nowhere near the George Washington successor we still find ourselves pining for today, but it does suggest that we might not have to hold our breath much longer.