Alan Rickman, Bryan Greenberg, Shawn Hatosy, Mary Steenburgen, Bill Pulman, Eliza Dushku and Danny DeVito star in the edgy crime thriller Nobel Son, a surprisingly effective and twisting movie.
In Nobel Son, Rickman plays an obnoxiously cocky professor who has just been selected to receive the Nobel Prize. On the eve of the award ceremony, however, his son (Greenberg) is kidnapped and held for ransom by a young man with a grudge (Hatosy). But even after the ransom is paid and the son released, the con continues to play out.
Nobel Son is one of those movies that received a token theatrical release, little marketing and no awareness. Ninety-nine percent of people don't even know this film exists. There's usually a reason for this, and the reason is generally not pleasant. Occasionally, though, a movie slips through the cracks, perhaps because a studio exec didn't get it or the director pissed off someone at the top. Nobel Son is one of those movies.
By no means perfect, Nobel Son, directed by Randall Miller, succeeds on its fast-paced storytelling and edgy direction. It's not Guy Ritchie, but Miller adequately blends comedy and serious crime together in an effective way. The movie is funny, sarcastic, sexy and creative all at once, and that's four more things than I was expecting from this picture.
Nobel Son actually improves as it goes along, ending in a pretty effective, albeit somewhat anticlimactic way. Greenberg and Hatosy are fairly strong in the leads, and Rickman plays the best jackass he's played in decades. Steenburgen is also quite good, and Dushku... well, at least Dushku shows some skin.
Nevertheless, the film isn't for everyone. The movie's shift between serious and comedy is entertaining, but not always seamless; it feels like two different pictures at times. The story is a bit unconventional as well, and that doesn't sit with certain people - including the studio exec who effectively hid it from audiences.
Nobel Son isn't without its flaws, but it's a fun, twisty and edgy thriller. Recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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