Movies

Arthur Newman

'ARTHUR NEWMAN' Colin Firth and Emily Blunt co-star in this Dante Ariola directed film

'ARTHUR NEWMAN' Colin Firth and Emily Blunt co-star in this Dante Ariola directed film (Cinedigm)

Colin Firth has portrayed so many posh, charming, and articulate men that you can see why he was drawn to playing the title character of Arthur Newman — a middle-class American drone in khakis and a geek’s pastel polo shirt. A failed professional golfer, our hero has just been fired from his floor-manager job at FedEx, and that’s when he decides to escape his life by faking his own death and taking on a new identity: Arthur Newman, generic nobody. The way Firth embodies the character, with a robot stare and a flat affect that expresses each thought as a kind of minimalist hologram of emotion, he’s playing a cipher who pretends to be a different cipher. How indie-ironic!

In his vintage Mercedes convertible (what good is a deadpan road comedy without a car that has antique 20th-century cred?), Arthur meets Mike, a cuddly kook played by Emily Blunt, who is lovable even though she seems to be competing in a Juliette Lewis impersonation contest. Mike has demons of her own: She comes from a family of schizophrenics, and she’s scared that she’s going to have a psychotic break. But it’s nothing that Arthur can’t help her through, just as she helps him get in touch with his lost humanity. I only wish that Arthur Newman were more interested in who that human being is and less invested in the posture of indifference that conceals him. B-

Originally posted April 29 2013 — 12:00 AM EDT

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