Match

It’s not often I get to enjoy prune pastries with someone who orally violated me

Year Released : 2014match
Director : Stephen Belber
Cast : Patrick Stewart, Carla Gugino and Matthew Lillard

It gives me great pleasure to talk about an actor that I never thought I would get to talk about this website. With such an incredible career behind him and near enough universally respected, it’s almost strange that Patrick Stewart’s 2014 drama “Match” slipped under the radar and made a total gross of just over $28,000 in it’s native America,

Along with the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer and several others, Patrick Stewart is amongst my favourite actors. Right from when he put me into a state of wonder with his captivating performance as Jean Luc Picard in “Star Trek : The Next Generation”, his mesmerizing portrayal of Charles Xavier in the X-Men franchise and many others, Patrick Stewart has always been an actor that I have truly enjoyed watching.

There is just something about Patrick Stewart that draws you in. He brings his characters to life, even if the material is fairly limited and I love actors like that. He brings passion to every single role and as we approach the 30th anniversary of when he become a household name with the aforementioned role as Jean Luc Picard, I still find him as engrossing as I did when I first saw him roughly 23 years ago.

I write all of this before I even start to watch the film, so for all I know I could be lauding an actor that has starred in an awful film, and to be honest I’m not even entirely sure what the plot is at this point. For all I know he could be diabolically awful and I have just embarrassed myself, but I hope that isn’t the case.

I’m not to going to lie either, when IMDB said that people who liked this tended to like Little Accidents, which I recently reviewed and slated (click here for the review), my heart kind of sank and I lost a lot of hope that I would enjoy this.

Plot

Tobias (Stewart) is a world renowned dance choreographer and instructor  currently spending the twilight of his career in New York. He receives a request from Lisa (Gugino) to conduct an interview for her dissertation on dance from the 1960s. Lisa arrives with her husband Mike (Lillard), although he seems considerably less interested in Tobias’ career.

As the interview progresses, Tobias becomes very open about sexual expression during the 1960s and the trio start talking about some of his sexual escapades. When the subject moves onto one woman in particular, Mike suddenly becomes increasingly interested and consistently asks questions that Tobias starts finding uncomfortable.

Soon Tobias uncovers the true motives of the couple travelling from Seattle and that is that they believe he is Mike’s father, not helped by Tobias bragging about his sexual relationship with Mike’s mother in 1967. Tobias denies that he is Mike’s father due to him always using protection, but Mike refuses to accept this and physically forces a DNA swab from Tobias’ cheek, but how will the test turn out and what will everyone’s reaction be?

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Disappointing or as good as you’d hope?

I’ll start with the obvious thing that you need in a film and that is an engaging plot that keeps you interested from start to finish, and for the most part Match definitely achieves that. I mentioned in another recent review that I can always tell if I’m liking a film if I’m not clock watching, and that didn’t happen once during the entire film.

The pacing is perfect and nothing feels forced with it. It’s not a rush to get to it’s conclusion, but at the same time it appreciated that if it’s not done at a certain tempo then people will quickly lose interest in it. I’m not going to lie, it does turn a bit dull after Mike has forcibly gained a DNA sample from Tobias, because not a lot really happens for a while, although is does develop the characters quite well and that recovers it for me.

Patrick Stewart is delightful in what is quite possibly the most unique role I have ever seen him in. His performance as Tobias is unlike anything I have ever seen him in before and he portrays a great nervous, yet extroverted dance teacher. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Stewart usually plays quite reserved and level headed characters, such as the aforementioned Picard and Xavier, you know, characters that, if anything, could be described as being dreadfully serious and a bit dry, but his performances as Tobias is anything but. Tobias is a flamboyant, life of the party style character, almost theatrically outgoing. If anything I would class this performance as one where the actor in question goes against everything their stereotypical roles.

To put that in some sort of context I’ll give you another example. Jim Carrey is generally seen as an actor that produces over the top comedic performances, such as Ace Ventura, The Mask, Liar Liar, etc, but for me his two best performances come in serious roles in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Sometimes actors excel in what could best be described as outside of their comfort zone.

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It isn’t just Stewart that does well though as Lillard also caught my attention as a man desperately searching for his father. I’ve never particularly been impressed with Lillard after first seeing him in the mid-90s film “Hackers”, but then again I’ve only ever seen him play stupid, immature characters, so it was a nice change around to see him also put in an out of character performance, however, I feel he was miscast in the role.

The film never reveals what year it is set in, although the setting and technology on show leads me to think it’s modern day. His character is looking for his father after finding out he was conceived in 1967. Now, assuming that the film is set in 2014, when the film was made, the would make the character around the age of 47 and Lillard doesn’t even look close to 47. Lillard still looks like a man in his late 20s or early 30s and growing a moustache doesn’t change that.

Don’t get me wrong, this is nothing against Lillard himself or his portrayal of the character, but I did find it hard to really get truly invested in it due to the mismatch between the character’s age and the visual age. I mean below is a screenshot from the film (one that I had to capture myself as there don’t seem to be any on Google Search other that the one I used at the end of the plot section) and there is not one moment in the film where I believe that the character is actually close on 50 years old.

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The setting is almost perfect as unlike a lot of homes in films, this one actually feels like the character actually lives in here. This is done through little touches here and there that film-makers ignore and everything is reflecting of Tobias’ personality. The creaking floorboards, the line shining in and making it a bright, welcoming home, the open-ness of the floor plan and many other factors make it genuinely believable, without actually making it look ridiculous.

Summary

A absorbing drama that achieves a lot because of it’s relatively simply plot and small cast.approved

Patrick Stewart and Matthew Lillard are both captivating in their performances and it changed my opinion on the latter’s acting ability. Stewart is very much the star though and he thrives in what is a very unfamiliar type of character.

Match is the sort of film that can feel that you can watch over and over again, and I fully intend to do that again, which is something that I don’t say often on this site.

 

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