An old man working alone in a dusty shop is always a sign of emotional malaise and a tortured relationship with the past, be it Rod Steiger in The Pawnbroker or Al Pacino in David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn.
A.J. Manglehorn (Pacino) is an antisocial locksmith whose best friend is his cat (which is a perfectly healthy state of affairs, for the record) and who constantly writes letters to long-lost love Clara. A budding romance with bank clerk Dawn (Holly Hunter) is threatened by Manglehorn’s inability to move beyond Clara’s memory, and his own difficulty in relating to other humans in general, including his wealthy yet estranged son Jacob (Chris Messina).
As is to be expected from Green in his pensive mode, there are lovely images in Manglehorn, including a long, Crash-worthy shot of a watermelon-truck accident, some moments of avant-garde editing and sound design, and a light dusting of magical realism, particularly in the final shot.
But Manglehorn is also the latest entry into the tiresome Sad Man Learning to Love Again genre. A movie is always better with Holly Hunter in it, but the fact that she’s eighteen years younger than Pacino goes to show that even quirky indie films aren’t immune to Hollywood’s pervasive ageism toward women.
Directed by David Gordon Green
Opens June 19, IFC Center
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 16, 2015