Rick (2003)

DVD Cover (Sundance Channel Home Entertainment)
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Overall Rating 60%
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Ranked #4,695
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Bill Pullman
Bill Pullman
Aaron Stanford
Aaron Stanford
Agnes Bruckner
Agnes Bruckner
Sandra Oh
Sandra Oh
Dylan Baker
Dylan Baker
Review by bluemeanie
Added: August 05, 2005
This is not an easy film to love. "Rick" is so dark, it makes "Eraserhead" look like "Spice World". The thing is -- the darkness in "Rick" is not as easy to spot as the darkness in a film like "Eraserhead"; it is disguised in sarcasm, cruelty, and the twisted and surreal surroundings that transport the characters throughout the film. Before the film began, director Curtiss Clayton explained how the film was completed in 2003, but had taken so long to find distribution because all of the studios said it was too dark and would not work because it does not have a happy ending. I can see their point. It deserves to be released, but many people will not want to subject themselves to this kind of cruelty and this kind of tragedy. It reminded me, in many ways, of "In the Company of Men", in terms of its sheer and utter hatefulness. "Rick" is not a nice movie for nice people.

Bill Pullman stars as Rick O'Lette, a middle-aged widower who works for Image Company. Rick might have once been a good person, but has turned into a cruel, sarcastic monster -- spitting fire at anyone and everyone who opens the door. His boss, Duke (Aaron Stanford) is half his age and treats him like an old poker buddy, though the tension and hostility between the two is evident from the first moment they share the screen. One day, Rick decides to treat a young woman interviewing for a position (Sandra Oh) like dirt, forcing her to eventually place a curse on Rick for being 'pure evil'. This curse takes Rick down a long and sinister road. As soon as the curse is placed, Rick is confronted by Buck (Dylan Baker), an old college buddy who tells Rick that he owns His Own Company and is in the business of 'getting rid of people' higher than others on the corporate ladder. I will not divulge anything further, for it would ruin the film. Agnes Bruckner co-stars as Eve, Rick's daughter and, seemingly, best friend.

What an odd film. I liked the way the city was filmed -- dark, wintery, and almost dreamlike in the way in makes us think we are floating along with the characters. I also liked the writing in the film -- some of the best of the entire year, especially when Rick has his exchanges with Sandra Oh, with his explaining why she is not going to be hired. "Rick" shows us how karma can come back to kick us in the ass, and shows no sympathy to anyone. The ending of the film is just as tragic as it is deserved, in some ways. When a person embarks to commit an act of evil, twice as much evil will come back to that person. Just when we start to like Rick and sympathize with the way he is, he goes and proves his seediness and does something that changes his life forever. We feel bad for him, but we can't say we did not see it coming.

The performances here are sterling. Bill Pullman is Oscar worthy as Rick, one of the best roles he has been given in a long, long time. Agnes Bruckner also impresses as Eve, his emotionally confused daughter. Aaron Stanford walks through the most entertaining role in the film, and Dylan Baker seems to be having all the fun in the world as the mysterious stranger with the fantastic business cards. I also like that Sandra Oh, a very underrated actress, is starting to emerge in more and more films -- you can also catch her in Alexander Payne's new drama "Sideways", coming out this Fall. These five performances showcase a wide range of emotions and behaviors that all blend together to teach a very valuable lesson about life, and human nature.

Will this be a huge commercial success? No. Will it be nominated for any Oscars? More than likely -- No. Will it stick in my mind as one of the best films of 2004? Undoubtedly. "Rick" left a lasting impression with me and made me question why Hollywood would easily greenlight trash like "Anacondas" and "Alien Vs. Predator", while all the while letting an indie gem like "Rick" fall through the cracks and have to struggle for distribution. Doesn't content and style mean anything anymore? David Lynch would certainly say that it does. Curtiss Clayton has directed a phenomenal motion picture and should have no trouble finding cult status with this picture -- it may take a few years, but "Rick" will catch on eventually. 9/10.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #1: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 04/19/2007, 09:23 AM
I didn't find this to be anything too special. I think it could have been put together much better and made more interesting somehow. I'd like to think that bluemeanie has since given this a second viewing and downgraded his opinion or at least taken back his overstatement that this makes Eraserhead look like Spice World. Most of my rating leans on Bill Pullman and his shrieks.
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 04/19/2007, 09:57 AM
The "Eraserhead" look like "Spice World" comment was a humorous comment, not to be taking literally. No -- if anything, I have upgraded my rating to 9.5. I absolutely love "Rick" -- the look, the tone, the performances -- everything. It's a complete package in that it totally creates this unique world where these characters live and thrive. And the ending is just tragic in an ironic, semi-comical way. Loved it more the second time I saw it. 9.5/10.
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