Review: The Longest Week
PLOT: Conrad Valmont (Jason Bateman) the affluent son of a prominent New York family finds himself out on the street when his family decides to stop funding his opulent lifestyle. He moves in with his best friend Dylan (Billy Crudup) and promptly steals his girlfriend, Beatrice (Olivia Wilde).
REVIEW: Right from the get-go its pretty obvious that THE LONGEST WEEK is going to be a bit of an endurance test. Starting off with a title card reading prologue as our neurotic hero pours his guts out to a psychiatrist played by frequent Woody Allen-star Tony Roberts, its clear that writer-director Peter Glanz is looking to establish himself as the heir apparent to Woody Allen and Whit Stillman with a (too) healthy dose of Wes Anderson mixed it. I wish I could tell you that this is a promising debut, but put those three directors together and what you get is a pseudo-intellectual mess and THE LONGEST WEEK is bad enough that its no wonder its getting such a low-key release considering the talent involved.
I hesitate to label any movie as derivative, but having just recently re-watched THE ROYAL TENNENABUMS its clear that Glanz movie owes more than a little to that similar tale of a formerly affluent-outcast trying to make his way in the world. As solid and reliable an actor as Bateman is, he cant do much with the selfish, annoying Valmont. Hes probably meant as a kind of human satire of faux-intellectual NY society types, but hes all but impossible to invest in, and not charismatic enough that you could believe that the characters played by Crudup and Wilde could fall under his sway.
Crudups character is frustrating in that he often talks about wishing he was like Valmont while he seems way better off. I guess hes supposed to be a take-off on Owen Wilson in TENNENBAUMS but he seems too straight-laced. Just in case you think Im going too far with the comparisons to TENNENBAUMS, I should mention that Olivia Wilde plays a precocious former child-prodigy who wears tons of eyeliner, just like Paltrow did in that far, far better film. Whats a real shame is that everyone is actually quite good. The performances are strong, they just have nothing to work with.
Even if one is totally oblivious to the fact that THE LONGEST WEEK is essentially a ROYAL TENNENBAUMS clone, this is still far from being a good movie. Its the kind of thing maybe first-year art-schoolers will enjoy, with them being able to impress their friends by pointing out that the dance routine Bateman and Wilde do in the café is straight out of Goddards BAND OF OUTSIDERS, or pretending to chuckle at lines such as she's like the ingénue in a Chekov play. Alas, one can only stay nineteen for so long.
Probably the only nice thing one could say about THE LONGEST WEEK is that it runs mercifully short at eighty-five minutes, and that Glanz film does have a certain technical sophistication with nice photography of the spacious NYC lofts Wilde and Crudup inhabit. Id never write a director off on the basis of his first film, and Glanz does have some style, so he could certainly improve. But this is a lackluster, derivative debut thats best forgotten. Watch THE ROYAL TENNENBAUMS again and give this one a pass.