Tuesday, January 29, 2013
#627: The Game
The Game is a room full of funhouse mirrors that lead to secret corners and playful surprises. Though it has a psychological edge to it (and lends itself, perhaps unintentionally, to a satiric critique of the one percent), it doesn't amount to any more or less than this description would imply. Though the film has grown in stature since its release a decade and a half ago, I don't think it compares to the best Fincher's catalog has to offer, the masterpieces Zodiac and Seven. Then again, even if the film is slight, it's miles ahead of Panic Room.
The biggest problem with The Game is undeniably the difficult task of suspension of disbelief. It is simply impossible to believe that what happens in the film is possible, and there is a lot of expository sweat spent trying to distract you from this truth.
What saves the movie is a combination of a couple of performances from two of the most consistent stars in Hollywood - Michael Douglas and Sean Penn - and the increasing confidence of David Fincher as a director. Although his palette here is one-note very nearly to a fault (and it seems like every light in the film comes from some storefront lit from behind), his pacing and framing are both top-notch, and he has control over the suspense that hints at his downright Hitchcockian touches in Zodiac. This quality of craft elevates what would otherwise be a typical modern thriller - but it can't transcend the concept's inherent flaws.
Quite frankly, I find it confusing that many of the same people who complained endlessly about Benjamin Button being included rejoiced when The Game was announced. This is certainly the better movie, but both are easily dismissed as Hollywood throwaways - if impeccably made Hollywood throwaways. Just because Button takes itself a little more seriously is no reason to dismiss it faster. All that being said, as someone who happens to think Zodiac was the best movie of the 00s, it's always welcome to see a Fincher film in the Collection. As long as it's not Panic Room.