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Amateur (1994)

Accountancy, Murder, Amnesia, Torture, Ecstasy, Understanding, Redemption

Original Title : Amateur
Director : Hal Hartley
Writer : Hal Hartley
Genre : Comedy
Crime
Country : USA
Language : English
Producer : Jerome Brownstein , Hal Hartley , Ted Hope , Lindsay Law , Yves Marmion , Scott Meek
Music : Hal Hartley
P.J. Harvey
Jeffrey Taylor
Photography : Michael Spiller
IMDB ID : 0109093
Official site : http://www.spe.sony.com/classics/amateur/amateur.html
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poster for "Amateur" by Hal Hartley (1994)
Amateur (1994) - Hal Hartley
 

Starring

Isabelle Huppert Isabelle
Martin Donovan Thomas Ludens
Elina Löwensohn Sofia Ludens
Damian Young Edward, Jaque's Accountant
Chuck Montgomery Jan, Jaque's Goon
Dave Simonds Kurt, Jaque's Goon
Pamela Stewart Officer Patsy Melville
Erica Gimpel Irate Woman
Jan Leslie Harding Waitress
Terry Alexander Frank, the Cook
Holt McCallany Usher
Hugh Palmer Warren
Michael Imperioli Doorman at Club
Angel Caban Detective
Emmanuel Xuereb Bartender
Lennie Loftin Taxi Driver
David Greenspan George, the Pornographer
Adria Tennor Kid reading 'The Odyssey'
Parker Posey Girl Squatter
Dwight Ewell Boy Squatter
Currie Graham Video Store Clerk
Jamie Harrold Pizza Guy
Patricia Scanlon Young Irate Mother
James Michael McCauley Policeman (as James McCauley
Benny Nieves Policeman
David Troup Guard
Tim Blake Nelson Young Detective
Marissa Copeland Sister at Door
Dael Oriandersmith Mother Superior
Michael Gaston Sharpshooter
Paul Schulze Cop Who Shoots Thomas
 

Plot

Isabelle is an ex-nun waiting for her special mission from God. In the meantime, she is making a living writing pornography. She meets Thomas, a sweet, confused amnesiac who cannot remember that he used to be a vicious pornographer, responsible for turning his young wife, Sofia, into the world's most notorious porn queen. Sofia's on the run, convinced she's killed him. Together, Isabelle and Thomas set out to discover his past, a past waiting to catch up with him.
 

Comments

Amateur –, artsy, quirky, escapist - and rather entertaining sort of film. My one-line summary is about all I really have to say about the film. But hey, why don't I just throw in some filler material here? Well, okay then... I can't honestly say that this is a "good" film: it ultimately seems vapid, empty. The plot is lame, the acting and dialogue seem dead-pan and artificial, none of the characters really grabs me and holds me. I couldn't help but feel that huge parts of the movie seem absurd (such as [without giving too much away here] the part where the police sniper pulls his head away from his rifle…, and he is calmly smoking a cigarette –, what's up with that??! No, police snipers do NOT do that!!!). Oh, and the ending –, just when the movie really gets interesting and enjoyable right at the end, well, the damn movie just abruptly ends. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable film –, while it lasts, that is (I'm once again referring to that abrupt ending). Did you ever see "An American Werewolf in London" (1981)? Remember how it just, well... stopped?? That's what "Amateur" did for me. It just suddenly stopped. *Note to self: good thing I didn't pay to see this in the theater, as I surely would have approached the box office and asked for at least a partial refund. Anyway, I couldn't help enjoying the film. It is definitely a crime movie, along the lines of, say, a Joel and Ethan Coen film. But unlike those, this movie is simple, quiet, and seems to have a darkly vague and mysterious sense of satire all to itself. It's not full of over-the-top stunts, bloody shootings and car chases. There is, however, an excellent scene in which a hit man –, in a case of the hunter becoming the hunted –, gets plugged full of lead, and how! As a previous reviewer noted, it was a pure Monty Python worthy moment (think the Black Knight being de-limbed by King Arthur in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"). The dialogue is either extremely deliberate or at times utterly meaningless, but it reminds me of other atmospheric sorts of movies such as "The Spanish Prisoner", "House of Games" and "August 32nd on Earth". And for that I was thankful, because it enhanced the quiet, detached feel of the film. Ditto for the filming locations. Though filmed in and around New York, it was tastefully void of splashy references to big-city surroundings. So watch this film sometime when you are in a quiet, laid back mood, when you just want to escape the usual hype and schlock of most modern day big-budget films. You never know: given half a chance, it just may grow on you. A final thought: if you don't instinctively know that Isabelle Huppert's last name is pronounced "oo-PAIR" and not "hup-purt", then this film may not be your cup of tea.
 
poster for "Amateur"
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Amateur (1994) - Hal Hartley
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