- Richard Shepard
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Brosnan plays Julian Noble, whom we soon learn is a “facilitator” or hit man or assassin, your choice of vocabulary. But we don’t know him as such; from the first time we see him, we perceive that this is a weak, conflicted man, whose empty life haunts him day by day. He obviously got lost in the turmoil of luxury and narcissism, and ended up lonely and pathetic. At his worst, oversexed and drunk, he approaches another American guest in his hotel at Mexico City: businessman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear), who’s also sad and lonely, though in a totally different way: he’s losing business deals like sand through his fingers and soon won’t be able to give his loving wife Bean (Hope Davis) the life that she deserves.
The relationship is bumpy from the start, but there’s something each man admires in the other to the point of obsession: Danny sees in Julian the opportunity to be “bad” for a while, leaving his squeaky clean image behind if only for a day, if only to himself, while Julian finds Danny’s stability and correctness irresistible. Neither is ever going to be like the other, but being friends in a setting where each is alone is rather hard to resist. Thus begins a truly unique relationship that turns The Matador not in a buddy movie, but in a black comedy of sorts.
Shepard’s writing surprised me. I loved how he delineated his acts and made each unique and surprising. The first segment, full of beautiful Mexico City vistas, has the men meeting each other and starting their bizarre relationship, ending up in a heart-pumping sequence in a bullfighting plaza where Julian demonstrates his skills. The second is my favorite, set in Danny’s house and starring both men and Danny’s wife Bean, who’s as curious about Julian’s job and gun as a little child that first meets the sea. This segment, by the way, works as a fine theater play, and I imagined what would have happened if the whole thing started there; would be interesting for sure, and perhaps as effective. The third and final act is action-filled but ends up in poignancy, truly powerful.
Pierce Brosnan convinces thoroughly in his complex and unique role. We never for a second remember his elegant and glamorous roles, but instead see this man as a dirty, lost and dangerous child who must find something or someone to correct his path. When he finds Danny we feel a relief, but it’s even better when Danny himself becomes a curious puppy in need of some risky fun. I’m not a fan of Danny’s character, but as clichéd as he may seem he’s a perfect everyman, and Kinnear is up to the task. Davis, as Bean, is perfect as the happy housewife.
Loved that music by Rolfe Kent, and the overall spirit of innovation that writer-director Shepard imprinted. Highly recommendable.
“My business is my pleasure.”
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