18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
One of the Most Underrated Movies in Years,
This review is from: Changing Lanes (DVD)
South African director Roger Michell directs this hit suspense thriller starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson. Michell is actually very skilled and has a tremendous amount of mainstream appeal. He also directed last years Venus, which was another solid film albeit very different from Changing Lanes. Ben Affleck plays Gavin, a successful Wall Street attorney who must file a power of appointment for his company, which is run by his father-in-law played by Sydney Pollack. The document will sign a company over to his law firm and that company is owned by a dying man. Ethical questions certainly surround the document and as things unfold we find out even more. Doyle is played by Samuel L. Jackson, he is an insurance salesman and a recovering alcoholic who wants badly to restore his family before his wife takes his children away to the west coast. We get the feeling that Doyle is a wounded man and his actions are unacceptable at times. Actually both characters are deeply flawed and that is what makes their collision so engaging.
On his way to court to file this crucial document, Gavin gets into a car accident with Doyle. He doesn't prioritize the accident and instead must leave the scene to make it to court on time. Doyle's car will not drive and he is in the middle of a highway median when Gavin takes off in a rush. It of course begins to rain. Doyle himself was on his way to court and when he eventually gets there he finds out that he is too late. His goal was to surprise his wife with a mortgage loan he just received so his family would stay. He was attempting to get some resolution to whatever chaos he may have caused his family before this movie begins. Unfortunately for Gavin the power of appointment was left at the scene of the accident and is in Doyle's possession. Doyle, sour for being left in the rain on the highway and missing his chance in court, refuses to give Gavin the document. Needless to say they both have reasonable vendettas against one another and the battle they have escalates throughout as the film goes forward. These two men are basically dehumanized to one another and it doesn't help matters that they both come from entirely different worlds. They are opposites in life, so they are fundamentally opposed to one another when the first sign of conflict surfaces. It turns out that Changing Lanes evolves into a unique commentary on the darkest sides of human nature. It is unique because we visit these dark decisions by way of likeable and real character portrayals. To avoid spoilers, I won't reveal anymore than I have already.
Samuel L. Jackson is obviously an outstanding actor and he is great here but the most surprising thing is Ben Affleck matches him and then some. It's a shame Ben's reputation as an actor was so horrible at the time Changing Lanes came out because his performance definitely deserved some praise. Sydney Pollack is also outstanding as an exceptionally believable and accessible villain. A lot of the credit goes to the screenplay here for exposing pragmatic reactions to specific circumstances instead of superficial morality. There are no purely ethical and moral figures in Changing Lanes, but then again I can't think of too many in real life either. If they did exist in Changing Lanes then its commentary would be disrupted completely, but I still held out hoping reason would creek into the picture. Chaos reigns here and humanity is called upon to prevail. It puts suspense on a much larger societal scale for me. I know that the ending bothered those hoping for something more retributive but try to see Changing Lanes as a story about healing, not revenge.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 10, 2008 2:24:17 PM PDT
Thomas Wikman says:
I saw this movie and I fully agree with the review which was very well written. It was a great movie.
Posted on Dec 20, 2008 9:06:44 PM PST
I agree with your review completely, especially your comments about the ending. I think some people are just out for blood. Too bad for them that this is really a story about the cost of retribution, and about forgiveness and healing.
I think the movie would have been even more interesting if the roles had been reversed, with the African American man in the more powerful position and the white man in the more vulnerable and economically frail position. I wonder if the screenwriter specified any race when he wrote the movie.
I think it would make a great play too. I heard about a play John C. Reilly and Phillip Seymour Hoffman did on Broadway where they kept switching roles. I'd love to see something similar done with this story. It would be fascinating.
Posted on Dec 23, 2008 1:15:59 PM PST
K. Driscoll says:
Agreed. You've demonstrated the reasons I loved this movie with your insights.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2009 9:21:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 17, 2009 9:22:28 PM PST
Dusty Roads says:
As far as (I'm concerned) - a brilliant review ! Very interesting to read !
Posted on Jun 6, 2012 1:10:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 6, 2012 1:25:25 PM PDT
Star Bux says:
If you liked this movie, check out 'sliding doors' (gwyneth Paltrow).
Same kind of theme, but from a female perspective: options vs.
responsibilities. The predators have options, while the prey are
given "responsibilities". When did slavery end in the U.S. or elsewhere?
Lyrics: we built this city on rock n roll..
Have you been bam-boozled ? Brain-poisoned? A dirty mind needs to be washed.
What is cyber-suicide but a song called dream-weaver?
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