The Humbling With Al Pacino

Posted 8 years ago by myetvmedia

‘The Humbling’, directed by Barry Levinson is inspired by Philip Roth’s novel of the same name, published in 2009. It seems good books are often made into bad movies and good movies are made from bad books. ‘Silence of the Lambs’ is a perfect example of a book written purely for the shock value but adapted for the screen it became a revolutionary piece of cinema (one of the only horror movies to win an Oscar, five of them in fact). Hopefully, Barry Levinson’s The Humbling will fit into that category. The book itself, about an aging actor who has a slew of intensely erotic experiences after he falls into a deep depression, was almost universally panned by critics upon its publication. One of the reasons was that Roth had been incredibly prolific at the time and the novel, his 30th, simply hadn’t stood up to his other contemporary publications. The novel’s erotic encounters had no themes that tied them together, and so were dismissed as simply the author’s fantasies put to paper. The good news is, with expectations from the failed novel set so low, there’s little this movie can do to disappoint. There must be something special in Barry Levinson’s adaptation because it has already made the cut for both The 71st Venice Film Festival, screening out of competition and TIFF. the Toronto International Film Festival. That something could very well be a symbiosis between Levinson and acting legend Al Pacino both of whom bring a very subjective and personal intensity to their work.

Levinson achieved major success in the 80’s and 90’s, winning an Oscar for ‘Rain Man’ (1988). Levinson has a history of bringing out great performances that have made brilliant movies. Such favourites as Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, and Robin Williams in the highly acclaimed ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ (1992). He’s had recent critical success with directing and producing the HBO TV series ‘The Borgias’, and TV movies starring Al Pacino; ‘You don’t know Jack’ (2010) and ‘Phil Spector’ (2013) respectively. This could be another in a long line of films where an amiable actor/director pairing can make a great movie. In Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski it worked even though their relationship off the set was more tumultuous than a bad divorce. Levinson teams up with Al Pacino for a third time in The Humbling. Levinson and Pacino’s chemistry could build something special into this piece making it much more than it was as a novel; as good screen adaptations of bad books have done many times before.

With Pacino starring in a role that will undoubtedly showcase his performance, it would be prudent to have a supporting cast that can accentuate the protagonist’s descent into the darkest depths of depression and decadence. Greta Gerwig, best known for her roles in two Noel Baumbach films; ‘Greenberg’ (2010) and ‘Frances Ha’ (2012), is starring as a currently unknown character but will probably play as Pacino’s lover; since she appears to be most comfortable in supporting roles. Her performance in the film ‘Greenberg’ showed she could play the love interest while adding a certain depth and dignity to her character, a rare quality amongst many of her contemporaries.

Al Pacino is a veteran of Venice where he was awarded one of its highest honours, the Jaeger Lecoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award at the 68th Venice Film Fest. He also graced its canals when he starred as Shylock in the highly acclaimed 2004 movie adaptation of ‘The Merchant of Venice’. As a Director, Pacino also presented ‘Wilde Salome’, starring Jessica Chastain at the same 68th Venice Film Festival.

Al Pacino is a father of thirteen year old twins, a 24 year old daughter, and at 74 his present partner of 4 years is Lucila Sola, 35. He is also starring in Manglehorn also premiering at Venezia 71, directed by David Gordon Green.

The Humbling is highly anticipated.

Darcy Smith

               

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