Manglehorn continues the low-key trend of eclectic filmmaker David Gordon Green; I’m not sure if there’s a more restless, unpredictable talent out there directing major films. He’s been amazingly prolific over the last 10 years, dropping close to one film per year (sometimes two), and each one is different than the last, while still displaying some common stylistic and thematic trends from project to project. Teaming with acting legend Al Pacino must’ve been a huge draw for Green, and he was able to coax from this iconic actor a soulful and downbeat performance that ranks as one of the more memorable from Pacino in many years. Screenwriter Paul Logan’s intimately scaled story is small and simple and it’s the type of thing you’ve seen before in some form or another, but it’s the way that Green fills the edges of his film with quirky beats and strange flights of fancy that all seem to work despite the fact that, at times, you sort of wonder where the piece is heading.
Green is a master of tone, able to mix comedy, violence, dramatic pathos, and honest emotion throughout all of his films, and as the years progress, his name is one that I am always on the lookout for. Shot by his regular and versatile cinematographer Tim Orr, Manglehorn has a stylish but reserved style, smartly using the 2.35:1 widescreen frame, while the dreamy score by Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo fills the background with a perfect sense of despair, whimsy, and hopefulness. Co-starring Holly Hunter as a bank teller/romantic interest for Pacino’s cat loving, aging locksmith, the two of them have wonderful chemistry, while the film gets a lot of comedic mileage out of supporting player/filmmaker Harmony Korine as a spastic salon owner. After premiering at the Venice International Film Festival, Manglehorn screened at the Toronto Film Festival, before receiving an extremely limited theatrical release by IFC Films last June. It’s available on various streaming platforms and on disc.