Saturday 15 January 2005

I Heart Huckabees (2004) - ickleReview (cinema)

Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman) keeps bumping into a tall African man. He thinks there's something to these coincidental meetings. So when he finds the business card of an existential detective agency in the pocket of a borrowed jacket, he goes to get it checked out. Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin play the wacky detectives, Bernard and Vivian, who follow him around, watching him have breakfast, cycling behind him, and placing surveillance bugs in his workplace, the offices of a coalition of greenfingers, campaigning to preserve open spaces from greedy capitalists like the Huckabees Corporation, headed by the slimy Brad Strand (Jude Law) and given a pretty face by his girlfriend (Naomi Watts).

Things get a little too weird, making plot description a worthless exercise. I went into this film not knowing much about it, apart from that it was recommended. I had seen the trailers, and thought it looked a bit oddball, a bit like Garden State. It didn't quite turn out like that: it isn't really a fair comparison. Nevertheless, it supplies just as many laughs, particularly from the superb performance by Mark Wahlberg (Dirk Diggler from Boogie Nights), who plays Albert's "other", Tommy Corn, a post-9/11 fireman who denies he's a "hero".

Writer/Director David O. Russell's screenplay has the same off-the-wall quality as Charlie Kaufman's works. Somehow, as it teeters on a tightrope above incomprehensibility, it finds a moment of absolute clarity, when you think you know exactly what it's getting at. On the page, I imagine it would just make the mind boggle; on the screen, it is motion picture magic.

Nugget: features Isla Fisher (Shannon from Aussie soap opera Home and Away) as the new face of Huckabees, once Naomi Watts starts to dress down on purpose.

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