There seems to be a certain amount of baggage connected with watching a new Al Pacino film these days.
- It has something to do with watching a force of nature in his seventies humbled by the indignities of time, or
- It is the realization that one of the most prolific American actors is well into the latter part of his career, or
- It forces people to confront their pervasive sense of age discrimination, whether subconscious or intentional, or
- It is a combination of all three.
Regardless of how it adds up, the fact that Al Pacino and Holly Hunter are masters of their craft is undisputed.
It should be a casting dream when an Academy-Award winning actor and actress are paired for a film.
That’s not a given.
Consider the case of Manglehorn, a film by David Gordon Green.
It was filmed, in and around Austin, Texas, for the paltry sum of $4 million dollars back in 2013 and has just been released in theaters and video on demand.
Back in Mr. Pacino’s heyday, the thought of a two-year turnaround time for a film with his involvement would be unimaginable.
Manglehorn, according to distributor, I.F.C. Films, is the tale of a reclusive locksmith (Pacino) who, years after getting his heart crushed in a failed relationship, finds hope in an unlikely new connection with a friendly woman (Hunter) from the local bank.
Manglehorn must decide whether to pursue the possible potential from the friendship or hold on to his learned behavior born out of heartbreak.
Reviews for Manglehorn vary in scope with the downside citing the film for being dreary and boring with the upside largely praising Pacino’s performance.
Mike D’Angelo, of A.V. Club.com, says that “Pacino is really acting again, which is cause for celebration.”
He also felt that the legendary actor deserved better material.
Katherine Pushkar, of the New York Daily News, felt that Pacino “was heart-breaking when he couldn’t get out of his own way.”
Stephen Witty, of NJ.com, noted that Pacino gave a rare, “subdued” performance.
Bottom line is that Manglehorn is not an easy film to watch.
The titular character, A.J. Manglehorn is an ex-con who decades ago chased a “big job” at the risk of losing the woman he loved.
He rolled the dice and came up empty.
It seems he created a lot of his own misery.
Instead of accepting his loss and moving on, he isolated himself and spends years writing thousands of letters to the long gone woman, all of which are returned unanswered.
He is estranged from his jerk of an adult son and his family.
Drawing even the most microscopic sense of empathy out of such a character takes a masterful performance from a masterful performer.
That’s why we have Al Pacino.
Regardless of how we feel about his recent films, it would be wise to make the most of his performances while we still can for reasons that ought to be obvious.