The Longest Week, from writer-director Peter Glanz, is a romantic dramedy that echoes its main characters: beautiful on the outside, bereft of purpose inside. Stylistically, Glanz channels Wes Anderson, from his symmetrical framing to his reliance on voice-over narration. The references are so excessive that the film hints at satire but ultimately fails to rise above mimicry.
Childish would-be novelist Conrad Valmont (Jason Bateman) is the wealthy heir to Valmont Hotels. When he is unexpectedly cut off from his family funds, Conrad moves in with his friend/rival Dylan Tate (Billy Crudup). Along the way, he falls in love with a model, Beatrice Fairbanks (Olivia Wilde), who he later discovers is Dylan’s new girlfriend. It’s a shame that the cast’s considerable charms are steamrolled into dull impersonations of Anderson’s Margot Tenenbaum.
They mainline her flat affectations while abandoning the fragility that made her alluring. There are a few beautifully shot montages where traces of Wilde’s and Bateman’s charisma shine through. Free of the overwrought, Woody Allen-esque dialogue, their attraction is tangible. The moment they speak, however, it seems implausible that they could muster up enough passion for sex, much less love.
The film’s frequent, winking criticisms of Conrad’s books — that they’re poor imitations of better artists’ works or that their characters are feckless and inconsequential — are frustrating, too. They strike so close to this work of art that they make the aggressive tedium seem intentional. Lacking any significant character arc or motivation, The Longest Week is little more than a series of insipid conversations between bored aristocrats who snark at each other in monotone.