only magazine

↵ home

The Lookout

By Chuck Ansbacher

Thursday March 29, 2007

These days, any movie that isn’t “based on” anything gets me excited. My standards may be in serious need of a raising, but honestly I’m just so sick of true stories, bio-pics, re-makes, sequels and any book or comic adaptation. Last weekend, there was only one movie in the box-office top five that didn’t fit into one of these categories. Granted it was Wild Hogs, but I’m just trying to make the point that fewer “original” films seem to come out these days than ever before. The Lookout is not only an original screenplay, but it’s helmed by Scott Frank (Minority Report, Out of Sight), one of the best “adapters” in the game. It’s also his directorial debut, which for a small population of Creative Screenwriting subscribers is reason enough to get excited.

Then you’ve got the Joseph Gordon-Levitt factor. In an apparent attempt to distance himself from his waaay-too-pretty-boy status, dude has been making some of the best decisions we’ve seen since Johnny Depp. The New York Times already explained this better than I’ll ever be able to. Basically, couple The Lookout with Brick and Mysterious Skin, and all of a sudden Mr. Gordon-Levitt has gone from baby-faced TV star to new indie it-boy for the ’07.

As a film, The Lookout does a lot of things that I love, which also happen to be absent from most movies these days. It takes its time, pours an unbelievable amount into character development, devotes itself entirely to a fairly insignificant subject, and ends without a twist. Again, all of these qualities are markedly un-Hollywood as of late.

In the long run it is a heist film, which, combined with all the above qualities, may sound a bit odd. It is definitely the most low-key of any film in its genre (obviously on purpose), and that may not work for some people. However, if any of the points or complaints listed here struck any sort of chord, you’ll be signing up for the Gordon-Levitt fan club half way through this movie.