Real Time

Randall Cole

BY Robert BellPublished Nov 6, 2008

With a philosophical hit man, in the form of Randy Quaid with an Australian accent, along with a self-rationalizing and whiny protag, Real Time could easily have fallen into hipster trappings or unnecessary histrionics but a tight script and some subdued performances keep the flick in copasetic territory. In fact, the film is actually quite good but feels far more like a stage production — taking place almost entirely in a Lincoln town car — than anything particularly cinematic.

The two-man dialogue focuses on Andy (Jay Baruchel), a neurotic, compulsive gambler with a tendency to badmouth the men he’s indebted to, and Reuban (Randy Quaid), a pragmatic contract killer who is not without heart, and who advises Andy that he is to die within the hour. Understandably distraught, Andy proceeds to blame just about everyone but himself, initially ignoring Reuban’s offer of redemption, which is that of worldly closure.

While Reuban hopes that Andy will make amends with loved ones before taking a bullet in the head, Andy can think of nothing more than screwing a prostitute who looks like Rosie Perez and telling his old fast food manager a story of macaroni salad fornication.

This is entirely logical as the film examines themes of redemption, luck, second chances and the impact that isolation can have on people. It may be easy to dismiss such a loathsome and self-serving character as Andy but Real Time hopes to shed some light on what might cause a person to retreat from socially acceptable confines and live a life exploiting his fellow man.

A slightly convoluted denouement asks much of the audience but Cole’s deft direction and Quaid’s restrained performance in particular manage to make the cheat strangely affecting. Overall, the film should find success on home video and cable, having a smaller, more personal touch than most big screen outings.

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