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'Small Apartments'

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Reviewed by James Renovitch, Fri., March 16, 2012

SXSW Film

Small Apartments
Narrative Spotlight
D: Jonas Åkerlund; with Matt Lucas, Juno Temple, James Caan, Dolph Lundgren, Billy Crystal

Franklin Franklin's (Lucas) life is in a rut, even if it is an unusual rut: Practice alphorn, check the mailbox in tighty-whities, listen to daily audio cassette sent from brother in the loony bin, eat pickle with mustard, repeat. But when "dispose of landlord's body" is put on the to-do list, things go haywire quickly. Director Åkerlund comes from a music video background, and it shows. The colors are saturated, and the camera flashes quickly forward and back through time to help us understand how Franklin got in this predicament. The characters and the shooting style seem made for one another, but over the course of a feature, the effect wears thin; by the hyper-colored denoument, it barely registers. Lucas is cast perfectly as the underdog you can't help but root for, but the real standout is the muted Crystal, playing a small but pivotal role. Åkerlund should have trusted in his lovable cast rather than relying on camera tricks and surrealist touches to keep the audience's attention. But the movie stays on the rails, and the ride is bumpy but worth it.


Friday, March 16, 7:15pm, Stateside; Saturday, March 17, 3:30pm, Alamo Ritz

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