Husband and wife filmmakers Joel and Christine of Rain in the Mountains fame were at the premiere of indie movie Nobel Son starring Alan Rickman, hosted by Gen Art. Joel sent photos and Cristine sent a report.
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Husband and wife team Randall Miller (writer/director) and Jody Savin (writer/producer) have spent years collaborating on script rewrites, battling talent agents and rounding up sponsors. The result of their hard work is Nobel Son, a dark comedy/heist caper that audiences will enjoy. For me, it was definitely awe-inspiring to witness two truly independent filmmakers succeed in acquiring a slew of top actors and producing a seemingly well-funded feature on the merits of their script alone.
Watching the film at the NYC Gen Art Premier, I was entertained throughout and only briefly distracted during Alan Rickman’s opening sex scene… thinking of how Mr. Rickman was sitting in the reserved seats a few rows back and watching along with me… awkward.
While the very beginning of the film came off a little shaky, with a slight hint of “student film” vibe, the movie really takes off once each main character is informed that Eli Michaelson (played by the captivating Alan Rickman) has been awarded the Nobel Prize. Eli’s son, Barkley Michaelson (Bryan Greenberg) is struggling to finish his PhD thesis on cannibalism and is less than thrilled to accompany his father to Stockholm for the ceremony. Barkley misses the flight when he is kidnapped and held for ransom for the sum of 2 million – the exact amount his father just received for winning the Nobel Prize. Rickman, playing the bastard you hate to love, initially refuses to pay his son’s ransom, requiring his wife Sarah (Mary Steenburgen) to take charge.
The subtle humor of each character gives the movie an honest charm. Sadly, this charm is often buried beneath the overbearing soundtrack. Evolving quite quickly into a full blown heist film, one begins to understand where the music is coming from as Nobel Son attempts to take on the slick nature of Lock Stock or Trainspotting. But the blasting techno doesn’t quite work, distracting from the plot and taking away from the acting. As an independent film and not a big budget Hollywood caper, the techno beats and few attempts at stylized photography feel out of place, and it’s in the silent moments in between that a more sincere film shines through.
Nobel Son would have benefited from less flash and allowing the writing and acting to carry the film. The actors involved definitely give the film a leg up. Alan Rickman is brilliant as always. Bill Pullman is perfect as the bumbling detective. Danny Devito’s small but memorable role as the recovering obsessive-compulsive is endearing and hilarious and Mary Steenburgen does a great job balancing everyone else’s insanity. Even Tedd Danson makes a guest appearance.
The script does have some great moments but, while I enjoyed many of the plot twists and turns, the third act felt disjointed. The film and the characters took an abrupt turn that seemed a bit forced and without enough build-up to support it. I’m also not sure the thread of cannibalism fully worked for me, but I have to say, the movie left me thoroughly entertained, I was kept guessing and was happy to see great actors having fun on the screen.
Gen Art did a great job at organizing an intimate screening and Q&A session that was beneficial to the film, filmmakers and Gen Art members that were given the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the talent behind Nobel Son. The greatest thing a personal pessimist such as myself can take away from this screening was inspiration. Seeing a film like this get made gave me hope that it is possible to produce a truly independent film with wonderful actors if one perseveres.
Review by Christine Metlen. Photos by Joel Metlen.