by M. Faust
To call this film about a man who hates his life and decides to abandon it for a new one more to his liking a cross between Seconds and Scarecrow may not say much to viewers unfamiliar with arcane movie references (the former John Frankenheimer’s 1966 science fiction drama starring Rock Hudson as a businessman who pays to have a new life created for him, the latter a 1973 road movie with Gene Hackman and Al Pacino as lost souls on the road). But it is a fast way of getting the attention of fans of the golden era of American independent filmmaking who will probably best appreciate Arthur Newman’s modest but distinct achievement.
Colin Firth has the title role, or at least he does after he decides to stop being Wallace Avery, professional failure who is despised by his son and ex-wife as much as he is by himself, and become “Arthur J. Newman,” following up on a job opportunity halfway across the country. He fakes his death and hits the road, where he meets a woman who calls herself Mike (Emily Blunt), who has her own self-worth issues but even less of a grip on reality than he does.
Arthur Newman has special interest to local audiences as a film with local connections. It is a co-production of Vertebra Films, a company owned by some folk who are about as far removed as you can get from the stereotype of Hollywood producers. Helen and Andrew Cappuccino are esteemed graduates of UB’s medical school, she a surgical oncologist, he an orthopedic surgeon on staff with the Buffalo Bills who received national attention for his work with tight end Kevin Everett after a paralyzing injury. That experience led them to the producers of the TV show Friday Night Lights and a program about football-induced spinal cord injuries, Beyond the Lights. They formed Vertebra with their son Mac, an NYU film studies graduate who has lately worked with Eli Roth on several new films. Arthur Newman will play for a limited run at the Regal Quaker theater beginning this weekend.
Watch the trailer for Arthur Newman
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