Sundance Review: "The Extra Man"


Few films I have noticed at Sundance have paid as much attention to script as this exquisite adaptation of Jonathan Ames' novel "The Extra Man". The film's central character is one Louis Ives, [a perfectly cast Paul Dano], a lonely dreamer who fancies himself the hero of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel while thinking about cross-dressing, an early experiment of which gets him fired from his college job.


He then heads to Manhattan to become a writer where he rents a room in the ramshackle apartment of Henry Harrison [Kevin Kline], a wildly eccentric, but brilliant, playwright who happens to be an 'extra man' - a kind of social escort for the wealthy widows of New York's high society. The two form an unexpected bond that ultimately runs deeper than either one could imagine.


Those familiar with the writer of acerbic novelist Jonathan Ames will realise that his work is insightful, witty and full of rich, almost indefinable characters. Translating him for the screen is not easy but under the hands of the brilliant directing team Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, who also worked on the script, this is one of those rare films in which characters are indelibly and deeply realised thanks to dialogue which brilliantly enhances character and mood.


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