Sunday, August 20, 2017

About Schmidt

Movie Name: About Schmidt
Year of Release: 2002
Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Kathy Bates, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney, June Squibb, Howard Hesseman, Harry Groener, Connie Ray, Len Cariou
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Director Alexander Payne followed his breakthrough film "Election", with another critical hit. "About Schmidt" which came out at the end of 2002, ended up on the lists of the best, and garnered Jack Nicholson another Oscar nomination. The film follows the story of Warren Schmidt, an actuary with a life insurance company in Omaha, Nebraska. After his retirement, and the passing of his wife, Schmidt decides to drive in his Winnebago to Denver, to attend the wedding of his daughter. Though he disapproves of his daughter's choice of husband, Schmidt ends up going through the motions, and meets the eccentric family of his future son in law.
As usual in Alexander Payne's films, his stories are comprised of people leading ordinary lives, but who are thrown into some chaos that disrupts their known habits. His universe is somewhat melancholic and inhabited by people with flaws, but always punctuated by humor. He successfully mitigates the harshness of situations, with a dry (sometimes dark) sense of humor, something that has been a constant in all of his films. "About Schmidt" is almost a one man show, giving Jack Nicholson a perfect opportunity to play a character that is more subdued and quieter than his usual larger than life characters. The actor relishes this opportunity, and gives the character the melancholy, sadness and humor that Schmidt experiences, as his life changes. The film also features a great performance from Kathy Bates, as the mother of the groom, who makes some advances towards Schmidt. It's a film that lives from the richness of its characters, and in that sense it's an endearing and compelling watch. Recommended.