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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Cast & Direction Drive Compelling Potter Update
The 2003 film version of THE SINGING DETECTIVE is by turns funny, scathing, and poignant, a woefully underrated look into a writer's psyche. If you don't have time to watch Dennis Potter's landmark TV miniseries (also available on home video), Potter's screenplay for this movie version (written 2 years before his untimely death) does a great job of condensing the story of...
Published on April 9 2004 by Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well-Acted but incoherent
Dan Dark, writer of noir, Raymond Chandler-esque Detective fiction is suffering from a severe skin condition that has made him virtually a prisoner in his own body. Mentally, he dwells in the realm of his novel, The Singing Detective, where he is a suave, hard-boiled yet sensitive PI. When forced to interact with the real world, Dark is obnoxious, angry and abusive...
Published on March 25 2004 by wysewomon


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Cast & Direction Drive Compelling Potter Update, April 9 2004
By 
Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci (Whitehall, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Singing Detective, the (DVD)
The 2003 film version of THE SINGING DETECTIVE is by turns funny, scathing, and poignant, a woefully underrated look into a writer's psyche. If you don't have time to watch Dennis Potter's landmark TV miniseries (also available on home video), Potter's screenplay for this movie version (written 2 years before his untimely death) does a great job of condensing the story of novelist Dan Dark's (Robert Downey Jr.) battle with severe chronic psoriasis and personal demons. Throughout the movie, the bitter, suffering Dark weaves in and out of reality and delirious re-imaginings of the people and events in his life as they'd appear in the titular novel starring Dark's tough private eye alter ego. Actor-turned-director Keith Gordon stages this wild ride through Dark's mind with a style that owes as much to David Lynch and the Coen Brothers as it does to Potter. The British miniseries' lip-synched 1940s musical set pieces are retooled as American 1950s rock 'n' roll numbers -- call me a Philistine, but I think the updating works even better than the original (and believe me, I loved the original)! As a writer, I found THE SINGING DETECTIVE to be a fine example of how one's life and experiences creep into one's writing no matter what genre you write in. Each and every member of the stellar cast is letter-perfect, with particularly good, sharp chemistry between Downey and, respectively, Robin Wright Penn (I've always loved her name; it's especially appropriate for someone playing a writer's wife :-), and producer Mel Gibson (as Dark's seemingly goofy but astute and compassionate therapist, Gibson is all but unrecognizable in bald drag; Greg Cannom's F/X makeup serves both Gibson and Downey well. In fact, Downey's psoriasis makeup is so good you might not want to watch this while eating!). It's a shame THE SINGING DETECTIVE didn't do better with critics or at the box office, or Downey probably would've been a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination. I could empathize with Downey as the angry, clever, pain-racked (physically and emotionally) Dan Dark even when he wasn't particularly likable. The versatile Downey could be a Bogart for the Aughties if he could keep his own personal demons under control. I also enjoyed seeing our household fave Adrien Brody in a relatively lighthearted (for this film :-) role as one of a pair of Dark's fictional hoods with a bumbling streak. Jon Polito completes the pair; he and Brody are like an amoral Abbott & Costello. Their repartee cracked me up, especially their "Patti Page" exchange early in the film (just watching Brody mouthing the barks in "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" is worth the rental price! :-). Give this new SINGING DETECTIVE a try next time you're in the video store and in the mood for something different. If you rent the DVD and like it, watch it again with Keith Gordon's commentary track on; he has lots of intriguing and entertaining things to say about the making of the film, particularly about the cast and how he and his crew got those great surreal effects on a low budget.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well-Acted but incoherent, March 25 2004
By 
wysewomon "wysewomon" (Paonia, CO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Singing Detective, the (DVD)
Dan Dark, writer of noir, Raymond Chandler-esque Detective fiction is suffering from a severe skin condition that has made him virtually a prisoner in his own body. Mentally, he dwells in the realm of his novel, The Singing Detective, where he is a suave, hard-boiled yet sensitive PI. When forced to interact with the real world, Dark is obnoxious, angry and abusive. When his condition fails to improve, his doctor prescribes psychotherapy. Using his book as a key to his past, his therapist hopes to unlock Dark's subconcious and set him on the road to healing.
There were several good things about this movie. The concept had a great deal of potential to be depthful and interesting. The film-making was pretty interesting. The performances were remarkable and Mel Gibson's make-up job was astounding. But the movie as a whole didn't work for me because the overall story lacked a coherent dynamic structure. The pieces worked, but they didn't fit together and I felt that some of them were missing. I don't mind having to fill in a few blanks in a movie, but in _The Singing Detective_ I had the constant and unpleasant feeling that I wasn't quite sure what was going on.
The movie moves through three storylines: the real world of Dan Dark in the hospital, the fantasy world of Dan Dark, The Singing Detective, and the memory world of Dark's childhood. I didn't think the Detective world was given enough attention. The story that was happening there was not entirely clear and there was little internal logic. This frustrated me because it seemed to me that the detective world was supposed to be the place where the other two worlds met. But since it had no solidity, it was only a tenuous bridge and the viewer was left to make up a lot. I would have liked it better if the filmmaker had chosen to spend more time with the detective world and less time in the hospital. Also, far too much time and detail was spent in Dark's memories. By the time we got to the big revelation scene, it was redundant because we already knew what Dark was going to say. There was no sense of climax, and the closure seemed contrived.
The murky story was muddied even further by a subplot that seemed to deal with Dark's paranoia about his present day life. I think this could have been left out. Often there was no clear distinction made between what was really happening in the present-day world and what wasn't. All in all, the film had such a surreal feel that, not only was it difficult to tell what was going on, it was difficult to care.
Watching _The Singing Detective_ was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that have intersting shapes but, when joined, give a picture of a Rorshach ink blot. What the viewer gets out of it is probably his own business. What I got was bored.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Robert Downey Jr., is The Singing Detective, March 29 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Singing Detective, the (DVD)
After having watched the original TSD six-part mini-series and read some of the bewildered comments about this film when it first screened at the Sundance Film Festival, I prepared to see this movie with some trepidation. Fortunately for us, TSD was included last fall at the Toronto Film Festival, where it played to a packed house of over 1200 people. Director, Keith Gordon was in attendance, along with the film's star, Robert Downey Jr. (Dan Dark) and Katie Holmes (nurse Mills.) Five minutes into it, I knew this was something special and unique as I found myself laughing, clapping out loud and even shedding a few tears.
The film was everything Gordon described it to be and then some. (And so was the original.) The 2003 DVD of The Singing Detective is a revised and sharper version of the mini-series and rewritten by Dennis Potter himself. It's a comedy, film noir, musical, intense microscopic character study and surrealistic detective story, with the film's hero slipping in and out of hallucinatory daydreams, as he reluctantly wrestles demons from his childhood. This is accomplished with the aid of one Columbo type, Dr. Gibbon, terrifically underplayed by Mel Gibson. The beauty of the journey is in observing how Dark gets from A to D, while trying to distinguish his angels from the devil. The emotionally and physically ill Dan Dark, unwittingly achieves this task while imagining himself as the tougher, fearless, ladie's man hero of his detective novels. To boot, this detective likes to croon a tune in the after hours clubs.

After having watched the film at the Toronto festival and then seeing it again this weekend by renting the DVD, I have to confess this is one of the most fascinating and brilliant films to grace movie screens. It wasn't just an apparition. The critics who didn't care for it, most likely didn't understand it, as it is a challenging film. Even Roger Ebert admitted he had to give it a second look in order to assimilate what he'd initially seen and liked it. (If you're excpecting Chicago, this film is not for you.) In spite of the fact that it wasn't completely understood, almost all critics were unanimous in their praise of Downey. He is superb. Forget Chaplin. (The biopic in which Downey excelled and was nomimated for an Oscar.) This is his complete virtuoso performance and it's worth renting the film just to observe his work alone. No wonder Sean Penn verbally acknowledged Downey in his short list of actors who were not nominated for an Oscar this year, when he received his own statue for the award. With an excellent supporting cast, this DVD is definitely worth the rent, but a few words of caution. Watch it twice and you'll be delighted and amazed by what you might have missed the first time around. In the words of Dan Dark. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Robert Downey Jr., is The Singing Detective, March 28 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Singing Detective, the (DVD)
During the first five minutes of this surrealistic film noir, surprisingly steeped knee deep in reality, we watched principal character, Dan Dark/Downey literally ravage against hospital staff members, hurling verbal obscenities and dishing out caustic abuse at random. Dark’s only weapon is his acid tongue as he’s rendered useless, while laid flat out, trapped inside of a body covered by lesions, symptomatic of a debilitating form of psoriasis. Not only is his body stiff, but his hands are curled, with limited, rigid movements and that doesn’t begin take into consideration the restless turmoil existing within his mind. This is the place where he feels most imprisoned and helpless. A sort of pergatory, where he dwells while waiting for his fate to unfold.

I appreciated the many ways creator, Dennis Potter, interjected and interwove characters and scenes, in and out of the starkness of the hospital setting, to the tainted, inner workings of the detective novelist’s mind, as bedridden Dark lay haunted by unresolved memories from his emotionally abusive youth. After engaging in a sordid affair, Dark’s mother uprooted herself and her little boy to go to work as a prostitute, while doing little to shield her child from her new vocation. These actions resulted in Dark having little faith or trust in women. As a result, he subliminally projected those beliefs, in conjunction with his anger, onto the female characters in his stories. And onto his wife who becomes the recipient of most of his venom. All of this occurs concurrently with another one of his detective stories, while he envisions himself as the hard-boiled hero of his novels. Trying to solve crime inside of the pages and simultaneously attempting to get a grip on the unspeakable hurts from his past, still existing within his fertile mind. During Dark’s journeys into his vivid hallucinations and his childhood, 50’s song and cheesy dance routines spring to life as he works towards uncovering the root of his illness, aided by the unconventional methods of one Dr. Gibbon, uniquely portrayed by Downey’s friend, Mel Gibson.
Director, Keith Gordon, did a splendid job of utilizing Potter’s initial recreation to the fullest without losing the integrity of the plot or compromising the images and emotions projected on screen by the film’s key players. This comedic version is not as dark as the mini-series and that's how Potter wanted it. As an audience, we were led on a fascinating journey, while wondering what was fact or fiction, which for me was part of the magic of the film’s concept. I enjoy being prodded a little when I watch a movie and don’t like to be hit over the head with obviousness. Not convoluted, but challenging, this revised film was delightful to watch. Just when some of the heavier scenes started to make me squirm, something humourous would occur from out of the blue. Not only was Dark being chased by his own shadow and two thugs, but he also suffered from acute paranoia, believing his wife was after his money and it was hysterical at times watching him try to distinguish his demons from his angels.
In addition to a wonderful performance by Mel Gibson, who shares some brilliant scenes with Downey, each supporting cast member is terrific and important to the story and it’s merit. Robin Wright Penn and Downey have excellent chemistry and Katie Holmes, who is featured as Dark’s sexy but benevolent nurse is oh, so sweet. Carla Gugino’s dual role as Dark’s mother and the victim in his novel is equally memorable, with Adrian Brody providing light-hearted support as one of the “bad” guys. I would have enjoyed seeing Holmes character receive more screen time, but her role was certainly key to the story and provided levity and sexual fantasy to Dark’s brooding mental state.
The concept of the film is different and doesn’t conform to rules or a formula often utilized by Hollywood studios, yet far more refreshing. A highlight was listening to Downey himself sing a soothing rendition of Gene Vincent’s “In My Dreams” as the credits rolled across the screen. Clearly and unequivocally, this film belongs to Robert Downey Jr., as he literally consumes and lives within the soul of the movie. He is simply outstanding in the role of Dan Dark as he moves seamlessly from physical and emotionally crippled patient with razor sharp wit, to street smart detective, to heartbreakingly handsome crooner of the after hours clubs. He’s bright. He’s funny. He’s poignant and he reminds you in every single scene just what a damned good actor he is. (No wonder Sean Penn tipped his hat to Downey when receiving his own best actor Oscar this year.) Downey’s secret is that he pulls out all of the stops with a natural and effortless flair. It’s been a while since I’ve chuckled that frequently, or my emotions have been toyed with so shamelessly while being transformed from my comfort zone to a new kind of Twilight Zone. Money well spent for an evening of guaranteed, but unusual entertainment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never bows to the common place!!, March 27 2004
By 
Cassie (Western Massachusetts) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Singing Detective, the (DVD)
We should all be grateful to Dennis Potter, Mel Gibson, Keith Gordon and Robert Downey Jr for giving filmgoers the opportunity to see that films can be cutting-edge innovative and that they don't have to fit a formula mold. The Singing Detective probably breaks every rule critics and audiences may have in their minds about the way a film should be, but I for one didn't care - it was a stimulating and drew me into its web right from the start.
Dennis Potter wrote a rich multilayered screen play that challenges and bedevils - watching it was work and fun and joy and emotive and playful.
Mel Gibson had the smarts to know how this film should be made and chose just the right people to pull it off, including himself as Dr. Gibbon. People have commented over and over about how different Mel looks in this role, but I think Dr. Gibbon tells us a lot about who Mel Gibson actually is.
Keith Gordon worked his Fellini-like magic on the screen play and with the actors and never bowed to the common-place. If you've ever seen "Waking the Dead", his touch in TSD is so present in the nuances of the dialogue and the darkness which he imbeds into the white-bright hospital scenes. I had wondered how he would accomplish jumping back and forth from the various 'Dark' worlds, but then I noticed the small repetitions, played out verbally and visually over the course of the film.
Robert Downey Jr came roaring onto the screen creating every aspect of Dan Dark with perfection - I saw no flaws. What I did see was his uncanny ability to hold Dan Dark's lightness just deep enough under the surface for us to wonder at first whether there was hope for him. Donwey's skill with the physicality of a role was also very evident, especially during the first stages of Dan's illness and in the scene where in a scene with his mother.
The dialogue is witty but sometimes Dan is hard to understand because of his infirmity - the DVD has English subtitles if that's a problem. Although I must say that as the film progressed, I realized it didn't seem to matter that I was missing a little dialogue here and there - the physical story telling took center stage a lot and as I said before themes were revisited to draw the collage together. In the end I knew exactly what had been said intuitively.
A big plus is Keith Gordon's commentary. One disappointment - I wanted Dan Dark to sing and dance more, but I know that wasn't the way to go.
I'm very clear that this rare breed of film should be revisited to get the full impact of its message of suffering, healing, love and redemption, so for me, buying it was a must. You have to be willing to jump into the film - get in the middle it. Besides wrongly holding TSD up against the mini-series, perhaps some of the harsher reviews are coming from those who subconsciously refused to take the plunge into Dan's world. It's a pretty organic piece that deserves full tilt participation, if you want to experience its complete message - if you want to find more than clues.
See The Singing Detective with no preconceived notions and the desire to evolve your thinking about the anatomy of a film and you will have a jolly good time and maybe learn something about yourself too.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great mix of film noir, musicals and human drama, June 3 2004
By 
This review is from: Singing Detective, the (DVD)
Author Dan Dark is trying to recover from a severe case of psoriasis, which causes him immense physical pain and sometimes the occasional hallucination. As he re-works his first novel, "The Singing Detective," in his mind -- sometimes imaging the people surrounding him as characters in this book, sometimes breaking out in song -- Dr. Gibbon, a psychlogist, tries to help Dark get at the root of his ailment by examining the events of his past.
Writer Dennis Potter re-works his TV mini-series into a fine film, mingling musiclas, film noir and a good human drama. Robert Downey, Jr., is excellent as Dan Dark, suffering both with the terrible skin condition an with his deep-seated emotions behind the characters in his first book. His delivery of Potter's fast-paced dialogue as well as his finesse with the character are amazing. Probably one of his best performances. The supporting cast also gives fine performances that truly enhance the film: Mel Gibson as Dr. Gibbon; Adrien Brody and Jon Polito as the two bumbling hoods; Katie Holmes as Nurse Mills; Jeremy Northam as Mark Binney; and Robin Wright Penn as Nicola/Nina/The Blonde. The makeup is also wonderful, especially both the work done to give Downey, Jr. psoriasis, and the almost unrecognizable Mel Gibson.
My only gripe is that the editing is sometimes a bit choppy making some scenes not flow as well as they could. Other than that, this is a great movie, filled with fine performances and a sharp, strong script.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Abridged Version That Works, May 17 2004
By 
Martin A Hogan "Marty From SF" (San Francisco Bay Area) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Singing Detective, the (DVD)
This film is not anything like the 1986 British mini-series. This shorter version is a daring and mostly successful attempt by director Keith Gordon to fuse all the elements of the story into a madcap collection of tough reality and odd hallucinations. Dan Dark (Downey) is a bedridden author severely disabled by the worst case of psoriasis imaginable. He refuses any medication and thereby experiences hallucinations - or reality - or stories for his next book? Director Gordon teases us through out the movie. Downey is exceptional as the acid tongued, highly emotional, screaming patient who has a wisecrack quip for any lowly doctor or nurse that comes his way. He verbally abuses his wife who can barely keep up with attacks, but sometimes shines through when needed. There's a lot of paranoia in this story and the 40's film clips where Dan Dark is the detective investigating some murders is part tongue in cheek and part possible reality. The scenes are chunks of 40's detective clichés thrown into a series of sentences. It's masterfully amusing. When Downey gets nearly unbearable to watch as the pain stricken patient, the film switches to a hallucinatory dance and signing number driven by Dan Dark's imagination. Sometimes it seems like a diversion and other times it's sheer brilliance. All the actors, Robin Wright Penn, Adrien Brody, Katie Holmes and Mel Gibson (as the nearly unrecognizable psychiatrist) do masterful jobs and Dennis Potter's dialogue is amazingly crisp. It's a good story, albeit sometimes disjointed, but the entire experience is well worth the time.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Confused and all over the place, March 30 2004
By 
This review is from: Singing Detective, the (DVD)
Because of the strong list of actors in this movie, "The Singing Detective" could have been an absolute gem, but it was simply bogged down by the writing. From start to finish this script seems confused, as though the writer was trying to cram way too many things into one simple film.
This movie is about Dark, a novelist laid up in hospital with a severe skin condition. Here he hallucinates about being a private detective in the 30's or 40's, where the story is even more muddled by strange musical lip-synching that hardly advances the plot.
The acting here is strong, as Robert Downey Jr. is in his usual fine form, going from a film noir detective to a bitter patient in the present day. Katie Holmes and Robin Wright Penn also deliver strong performances as a nurse and Dark's wife, respectively. The true achievement in this film is the performance of Mel Gibson, who plays an eccentric psychotherapist for Dark. He plays the doctor with an impressive quirkiness that I thought was not possible from the usually wooden Gibson.
I think this movie could have really been great, and there are elements here that glimmer with hope, but it all falls flat because of the overbearing script. Had the writer been more focused, or sure of what he wanted to see up on the screen, then this movie would have been alot better than it was.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Robert Downey Jr., is The Singing Detective, March 29 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Singing Detective, the (DVD)
After having watched the original TSD six-part mini-series and read some of the bewildered comments about this film when it first screened at the Sundance Film Festival, I prepared to see this movie with some trepidation. Fortunately for us, TSD was included last fall at the Toronto Film Festival, where it played to a packed house of over 1200 people. Director, Keith Gordon was in attendance, along with the film's star, Robert Downey Jr. (Dan Dark) and Katie Holmes (nurse Mills.) Five minutes into it, I knew this was something special and unique as I found myself laughing, clapping out loud and even shedding a few tears.

The film was everything Gordon described it to be and then some. (And so was the original.) The 2003 DVD of The Singing Detective is a revised and sharper version of the mini-series and rewritten by Dennis Potter himself. It's a comedy, film noir, musical, intense microscopic character study and surrealistic detective story, with the film's hero slipping in and out of hallucinatory daydreams, as he reluctantly wrestles demons from his childhood. This is accomplished with the aid of one Columbo type, Dr. Gibbon, terrifically underplayed by Mel Gibson. The beauty of the journey is in observing how Dark gets from A to D, while trying to distinguish his angels from the devil. The emotionally and physically ill Dan Dark, unwittingly achieves this task while imagining himself as the tougher, fearless, ladie's man hero of his detective novels. To boot, this detective likes to croon a tune in the after hours clubs.
After having watched the film at the Toronto festival and then seen it again this weekend by renting the DVD, I have to confess this is one of the most fascinating and brilliant films to grace movie screens. It wasn't just an apparition. The critics who didn't care for it, most likely didn't understand it, as it is a challenging film. Even Roger Ebert admitted he had to give it a second look in order to assimilate what he'd initially seen and liked it. (If you're excpecting Chicago, this film is not for you.) In spite of the fact that it wasn't completely understood, almost all critics were unanimous in their praise of Downey. He is superb. Forget Chaplin. (The biopic in which Downey excelled and was nomimated for an Oscar.) This is his complete virtuoso performance and it's worth renting the film just to observe his work alone. No wonder Sean Penn verbally acknowledged Downey in his short list of actors who were not nominated for an Oscar this year, when he received his own statue for the award. With an excellent supporting cast, this DVD is definitely worth the rent, but a few words of caution. Watch it twice and you'll be delighted and amazed by what you might have missed the first time around. In the words of Dan Dark. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Robert Downey Jr., is The Singing Detective, March 28 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Singing Detective, the (DVD)
During the first five minutes of this surrealistic film noir, surprisingly steeped knee deep in reality, we watched principal character, Dan Dark/Robert Downey Jr, literally ravage against hospital staff members, hurling verbal obscenities and dishing out caustic abuse at random. Dark's only weapon is his acid tongue as he's rendered useless, while laid flat out, trapped inside of a body covered by lesions, symptomatic of a debilitating form of psoriasis. Not only is his body stiff, but his hands are curled, with limited, rigid movements and that doesn't take into consideration the restless turmoil existing within his mind. This is the place where he feels most imprisoned and helpless. A sort of pergatory, where he dwells while waiting for his fate to unfold.
I appreciated the many ways creator, Dennis Potter, interjected and interwove characters and scenes, in and out of the starkness of the hospital setting, to the tainted, inner workings of the detective novelist's mind, as bedridden Dark lay haunted by unresolved memories from his emotionally abusive youth. After engaging in a sordid affair, Dark's mother uprooted herself and her little boy to go to work as a prostitute, while doing little to shield the child from her new vocation. These actions resulted in Dark having little faith or trust in women. As a result, he subliminally projected those beliefs, in conjunction with his anger, onto the female characters in his stories. And onto his wife who becomes the recipient of most of his venom. All of this occurs concurrently, with another one of his detective stories, while he envisions himself as the hard-boiled hero of his novels. Trying to solve crime inside of the pages and simultaneously attempting to get a grip on the unspeakable hurts from his past, still living within his fertile mind. While Dark journeys into his vivid hallucinations and his childhood, cheesy 50's song and dance routines spring to life as he works towards uncovering the root of his illness, aided by the unconventional methods of one Dr. Gibbon, uniquely portrayed by Downey's long time friend, Mel Gibson.
Director, Keith Gordon, did a splendid job of utilizing Potter's initial recreation to the fullest without losing the integrity of the plot or needlessly compromising the images and emotions projected on screen by the film's key players. This comedic version is not as dark as the mini-series and that is how Potter wanted it. As an audience, we were led on a fascinating journey while wondering every so often what was fact and what indeed was fiction, which for me was part of the magic of the film's concept. I enjoy being challenged when I watch a movie and don't want to be hit over the head repeatedly with obviousness. Not convoluted, but challenging, this revised film was delightful to watch and just when some of the heavier scenes started to make me squirm, something humourous would occur from out of the blue. Not only was Dark being chased by his own shadow and two thugs, but he also suffered from acute paranoia, believing his wife was after his money. It was hysterical at times watching him try to distinguish his demons from his angels.
In addition to a wonderful performance by Mel Gibson, who shares some brilliant scenes with Downey, each supporting cast member is terrific and important to the story and it's merit. Robin Wright Penn and Downey have excellent chemistry and Katie Holmes, who is featured as Dark's sexy but benevolent nurse is oh, so sweet. Carla Gugino's dual role as Dark's mother and the victim in his novel is equally memorable, with Adrian Brody providing light-hearted support as one of the "bad" guy. I would have enjoyed seeing Nurse Mills (Holmes) receive more screen time, but her role was certainly key to the story and provided levity and sexual fantasy to Dark's brooding mental state.
The concept of the film is different and doesn't conform to rules or a formula often utilized by Hollywood studios, but it's far more refreshing. A highlight was listening to Downey himself sing a soothing rendition of Gene Vincent's "In My Dreams" as the credits rolled across the screen. Clearly and unequivocally, this film belongs to Robert Downey Jr., as he literally consumes and lives within the soul of the movie. He is simply outstanding in the role of Dan Dark as he moves seamlessly from the physical and emotionally crippled patient with the razor sharp wit, to street smart detective, to heartbreakingly handsome crooner of the after hours clubs. (No wonder Sean Penn tipped his hat to Downey's performance when receiving his own best actor Oscar this year.) He's bright. He's funny. He's poignant and reminds you in every single scene just what a damned good actor he is. Downey's secret is that he pulls out all of the stops with a natural and effortless flair. It's been a long time since I've chuckled that often, or my emotions have been toyed with so shamelessly while being transformed from my comfort zone to a new kind of Twilight Zone. Money well spent for an evening of guaranteed entertainment.
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