Man in the Chair (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/01/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 110 mins

Watchable drama with a strong performance from Christopher Plummer, though the script often feels simplistic and can't quite manage the emotional punch the story deserves.

What's it all about?
Christopher Plummer stars as "Flash" Madden, the last surviving crew member of Citizen Kane, who lives in a Motion Picture Residence for the Elderly and spends his days boozing, smoking cigars and drunkenly yelling abuse at the screen during old movies in cinemas. After one of his tirades he meets troubled teenager Cameron Kincaid (Michael Angarano), a film fan who's eager to hear Flash's stories, even if Flash doesn't want anything to do with him.

Eventually, the two strike up a friendship and Flash agrees to help Cameron with his end-of-term film project, enlisting a crew of old-timers from the old folks' home and the help of an old writer friend (M. Emmet Walsh) who has fallen on hard times. With funding from an ex-Hollywood mogul (Robert Wagner), Cameron is ready to shoot, but will Flash's self-destructive tendencies get in the way?

The Good
Christopher Plummer is superb as Flash, delivering a performance that is genuinely moving - it's just a shame that the script can't match it. Similarly, Michael Angarano has been much better in other films (e.g. Sky High) but he seems curiously subdued here and fails to bring any emotional depth to the role.

That said, there's strong support from the likes of M. Emmett Walsh (who constantly looks like he's on the verge of collapse - hopefully that's just good acting) and Robert Wagner and Mitch "Agent Skinner" Pileggi has a nicely understated role as Cameron's apathetic stepfather.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the film is at least 20 minutes too long, ensuring that the already fairly weak plot rather overstays its welcome. Similarly, it attempts to tweak the heartstrings with a subplot about abuse in Old People's Homes (the subject of Cameron's film) which never quite comes off.

Worth seeing?
In short, Man in the Chair is worth seeing for Christopher Plummer's superb performance but the under-developed script means that it's never as emotionally satisfying as it should have been.

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Content updated: 19/09/2018 15:31

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