With his stringy mop of hair and ever unshaven face, Rhys Ifans seems like he probably came out of his mother’s womb looking like a burned-out rock star, so it’s about time he played one.
As the title character in Len and Company, he’s a musician-turned-producer hiding out in a small town watching Blackadder DVDs, only to have his self-loathing interrupted by an impromptu visit from his estranged son Max (Jack Kilmer of The Nice Guys).
You think you can guess what happens next, but the beauty of Tim Godsall’s film, adapted from a play by Carly Mensch, is that it eschews the obvious arcs and come-to-Jesus moments of your typical Bad Dad pics. As shabby as Len is, he’s no devil, and Max is no angel either, having shown up not to bond, but to get valuable feedback on his own demo album. And both of them have to become better than they are when Len’s pop princess protégée Zoe (Juno Temple) shows up on the doorstep wondering why her mentor recently embarrassed her on national TV.
Bolstered by beautiful winter cinematography from André Pienaar (How She Move), Len and Company falters only when it brings in Len’s ex to explicitly spell out the moral of the story. It’s a weirdly righteous moment in a tale that otherwise celebrates the way complete screw-ups can, at the best of times, learn to coexist without magically jettisoning all their old flaws.
Len and Company
Directed by Tim Godsall
Opens June 10, IFC Center
Available on demand