Monday, December 13, 2010

Don McKay - Lopsided Homecoming

Don McKay (Thomas Haden Church) lives a solitary life in the big city. A janitor at a college, he regularly sends letters to a girl back home – one who never replies. But one day, after 25 years, he gets a letter from her pleading him to come home. He does so, but with much uncertainty and he finds Sonny (Elisabeth Shue) stricken with a terminal illness. She declares her love for him. “Stay with me,” she begs. But something is amiss. Sonny’s caretaker Marie (Melissa Leo) speaks with a delectable sarcasm, and Sonny’s doctor (James Rebhorn) talks to him with contempt! Moreover, Sonny’s photos seem altered. What has he gotten himself into?

A powerful ensemble of Oscar nominees trade thespic punches with lustful brio. Thomas Haden Church gets himself a role that showcases intensity. He however seemed dazed during most of his screen time. We’ve missed Elisabeth Shue, nominated for an Oscar in “Leaving Las Vegas”, on the big screen, and she returns like a schemy Blanche Dubois – exquisitely beautiful after all these years, yet dangerous and unpredictable. Then Melissa Leo, nominated for an Oscar for her spotlight-hugging role in “Frozen River”, is the prissy caregiver who walks around with a dangerous undercurrent. She must have loved her part so much, it showed! But why is she billed “Melissa Chessington Leo”? What gives?

The movie keeps you guessing. It’s a modern-day, lopsided Agatha Christie, infusing suspense with a hint of humor. But then is it a black comedy – or just a suspense thriller? Sometimes you aren’t sure anymore. Director Jake Goldberger isn't too sure either.

"Don McKay" stars 3 Oscar nominees: Thomas Hayden Church, Elisabeth Shue and Melissa Leo.

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