“I bill The Longest Week as one of the year’s strangest pictures because not only of how heavily Glanz’s inspirations guide the film rather than he himself, but also how unexpected a film like this was…”
Conrad Valmont (Jason Bateman) has been coddled by his parents’ extreme wealth and lavish pleasures since infancy and has never lived his life with a sense of self-reliance or personal accountability. When his parents’ relationships crumbles before his eyes, Conrad finds himself evicted with no money, no additional relatives to turn to, and no experience in the real world, as if he has lived his entire life inside an inescapable bubble of good fortune and wealth. Conrad is taken in by his sole friend Dylan (Billy Crudup), who feels sorry for the poor schmuck and his situation, and finds himself falling for Beatrice (Olivia Wilde), a self-conscious model who also finds herself to be the object of Dylan’s affections in addition. In what appears to be the longest week of his life, Conrad tries to woo Beatrice, consult his therapist about biting personal issues, and bewilder Dylan so he is completely oblivious of his actions towards Beatrice.
Such is the premise for Peter Glanz’s The Longest Week, which nothing less than the collaboration of Woody Allen’s talky, intellectual screenwriting and Wes Anderson’s assured, tightly-oriented direction got together for a film collaboration. Even though Allen and Anderson had nothing to do with the film that wasn’t in the spiritual and inspirational department, I could’ve sworn I was watching a peculiar iteration of their talents on-screen in one of the strangest comedy-dramas of the year.
I bill The Longest Week as one of the year’s strangest pictures because not only of how heavily Glanz’s inspirations guide the film rather than he himself, but also how unexpected a film like this was, given the people involved and the trailer we received. The Longest Week was ostensibly a comedy by the looks of its trailer, which didn’t look too tight-knit and more like a looser, more mumblecore-style picture. What was in store, however, was a film that plays much more like a highbrow, British film, with characters conversing passionately about life, love, and their misguided attempts at distinguishing lust and love in a display that seems carried much more by inspiration than directorial perspiration.
What I mean is that rather than Glanz and co-writer Jesus Iglesias concocting a story that is all their own, they seemed to make a film that is too heavily bent on stroking the egos or complimenting their influences. There’s nothing wrong with homage, but The Longest Week becomes so distractingly similar to its aforementioned and distinct talent that we begin recalling the films of them rather than focusing on the current film at hand.
We are indeed greeted with a wonderfully assured performance by Bateman, who, just five months ago, was playing the year’s most detestable and belligerent character in the uproariously funny comedy Bad Words. Bateman, since his return to acting, has showed us multiple layers of himself, rather than just simple, one-dimensional archetypes, effectively making him one of the most diverse mainstream actors that I know of working today. In addition, Crudup and Wilde manage to become more than supporting characters or pawns in a story that could’ve easily been dominated by Calvin’s spoiled character, but given Glanz and Igelsias’s devotion to showing each character and providing them with backstory (admittedly, in the form of narration, which sounds extracted from Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, but I digress), we see each character and learn enough about them by the film’s conclusion.
The Longest Week also benefits from tightly-framed shots by Glanz, and effectively-sharp camera angles/pans, which make for a confident display of directorial talent on his behalf. The aesthetic on display keeps the film interesting in the regard that you never know just how or what Glanz will profile next. Yet, there is a cloying sense of artificiality in terms of what Glanz is about, which is due to the film feeling, not so much a work of Glanz but a work of Allen and Anderson in spirit.