Ken Finkleman tackles America’s follies and is surpassed by reality.
By Jorge Ignacio Castillo
THE PLOT: William Bowman, a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, realizes that to make it in today’s world, he has to go along with less than reputable characters. Much like Forrest Gump, William lands himself in recognizable scenarios (corporate boardrooms, reality TV, the gun control debate), which unveil the pervasive soullessness of modern America.
CRITIQUE: Through most of his later-day career, Ken Finkleman (The Newsroom, Good Dog) has traded in heightened reality and distrust of the media. #AnAmericanDream is a catalyst to his fixations. Finkleman has a dark, dyspeptic sense of humor, which I can get behind. The problem is that his brand of comedy not very funny or poignant.
The concept of “American Dream” has been mocked pretty thoroughly, and the writer/director’s observations in #AnAmericanDream are a both obvious (American legislators using religion to justify their less than humane actions is hardly ground-breaking, modern media lacks ethical or moral compass) and fail to add anything new to the debate. The film is a feel-bad journey without a payoff.
* 18-year-old newscaster Tally Pepper, not quite jaded to be a Fox News blonde, but well on her way to become one. Her appearances provide the funniest moments of the film, next to the prostitution-obsessed news crawl.
* The structural narrative of #AnAmericanDream feels fresh. In spite of the many elements it juggles (faux documentary, first-person perspective, episodic structure), it unfolds fluidly. It’s Finkleman’s forte.
* Jake Croker as William Bowman. Granted, the script asks for a blank-faced performance, but a little personality could have helped getting the audience on his side.
* The framing (Jake suffers a concussion that gives him a glimpse into the future) is unnecessary and the ending negates the very premise the film is built on.
RATING (CANADIAN CURVE): **½
#AnAmericanDream is playing at the Royal Cinema from Friday, June 2nd, to Sunday, June 4th.