‘Lookout’ for great directorial debut

“The Lookout” was easily of one of the top ten best movies released in 2007. It essentially has everything you could ask for in a movie, being both entertaining and deeply meaningful.

As the film begins, fast paced music accompanies a scene where four teenagers in a convertible race down a seemingly abandoned road. For a split second, Chris Pratt turns off the headlights of the car to show the friends a sky full of fireflies. The screen, begging for something bad to happen, goes to black as we see the firefly spectacle. Only then does Chris turning the headlights back on and crashing into a stalled combine interrupt the amazingly beautiful scene.

The film then goes forward four years, as the accident has left two of the passengers dead, one missing a leg and Chris with a head injury that reeks havoc on his life. As Chris, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, shaves, he cries, and the camera pans to show a body full of scars left over from shattered glass. As he narrates the movie, he reveals that reading the newspaper makes him mad, physically he can’t make coffee and constantly locks his keys in his car, forcing him to make a special compartment in his shoe to hold a spare one.

It is a seemingly unhappy life, until Gary, played by Matthew Goode, shows up and promises Chris his old life back. The catch is that Chris, aspiring to be a bank teller but working as a janitor in a bank for a rude and obnoxious boss, must aid him in robbing the bank he works at. The dilemma of whether or not to go ahead with Gary’s plan only gets more complicated when Chris falls for Luvlee, a former stripper played by Isla Fisher.

The film is written by long time screenwriter Scott Frank and clearly reflects the excellence he brings to the table. However, this is also Frank’s directorial debut. But watching the film you would think he is a more experienced and well-established director just by the sheer way that things are done.

Take, for example, the film’s character development. As Chris begins to develop new relationships after the crash, as the audience, we are essentially forming these relationships along with him. Getting close to a character distant from society such as Chris may have been hard, had it been done any other way. But by introducing us to characters at the same time the film provides a level of intimacy with the character few movies ever take the time to consider doing, let alone accomplish in a convincing fashion.

Some of the memorable characters of the film, including Jeff Daniels’ arguably best performance ever as Chris’ blind friend, Lewis, are as intriguing and captivating as Chris himself. It is a remarkable ensemble cast, and that really goes far in making the film great throughout.

In addition to character development, Frank has a knack for keeping the suspense ongoing through nearly the entire movie. Chris’ disability is never over done, and it always seems like Frank grasps the concept that his inability to remember things should not be a hindrance. It is an element in Chris’ life that only accentuates the real story that is going on, this being Chris fighting to get over the night he made a mistake and move on.