The Lookout Scott Frank

Two decades into his career, screenwriter Scott Frank has decided to get behind the camera to visualise his writing panache. With scripts for Dead Again, Get Shorty, Out of Sight and Minority Report, Frank has certainly earned his reputation. The Lookout, his first original piece since 1991’s Little Man Tate, is not only another exceptionally realised screenplay but it’s also a stunning film that establishes him as a gifted director.

After a car accident, Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is left with a malfunctioning memory that affects his daily routine and leaves him reliant on note taking and his blind roommate (Jeff Daniels) to live his life. When a gang of upstart bank robbers entices him to join their fold, he discovers a newfound enjoyment of life that involves women, money and power. However, Chris soon realises their motives to use him as the titular pawn in their bid to rob the bank he janitors at and must determine a way to use what skills he has left to dig himself out of this gaping hole.

An effectively paced, premeditated escapade, Frank lets his drama unfold with intensity and enough black comedy to prevent it from falling into the trappings of staid suspense flicks. There is discretion not to hint at the outcome of the film and as a result, Chris’s end strategy is uncovered with a rewarding climax that isn’t unlike the kick felt in Memento. The always-brilliant Gordon-Levitt, who stole the show in Mysterious Skin and Brick, continues his hot streak with another winning performance. He tackles the part of Chris (an unlikely hero) unsympathetically, owning the role of his brain-damaged character yet does so with a hint of aloofness.

Daniels, on the other hand, is a scene-stealer because of his willingness to speak up and out as the interruptive, wisecracking, blind mentor, a role that like the one he played in The Squid & the Whale, proves he doesn’t have to resort to such idiocy as last year’s RV. (Alliance Atlantis)