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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Manglehorn movie review: old man bitter

Manglehorn red light

Al Pacino fully arrives at old-coot-dom, ushered in by David Gordon Green in an apparent self-parody of his usual elegiacal visual style.
I’m “biast” (pro): I’m hot and cold on David Gordon Green…

I’m “biast” (con): …but mostly cold lately

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Manglehorn. It sounds like the site of a Victorian-era mountaineering disaster. But it’s only Al Pacino, who has now fully arrived at old-coot-dom, as a lonely Texas locksmith of that portentous name. His film does not live up to it in any way. Manglehorn is a wounded man with real pain in his heart, which we know because he says, “I’m a wounded man… I got real pain in my heart.” He pines for an absent woman named Clara, who may have left him to go save the world with her eyes, which we guess because Manglehorn tells someone she had “life-affirming eyes… You could save the world with those eyes.” I don’t know what that means either. Director David Gordon Green retreats into a near parody of his usual elegiacal visual style, piling on would-be meaningful imagery as sad-sack Manglehorn drags himself from scene to scene: there’s a beehive under his mailbox; his cat ate a key; behold the unrelated-to-anything multicar pileup with watermelon because Art. Eventually he gets around to wooing bank teller Dawn (Holly Hunter: Nine Lives), whom protagonist and movie alike proceed to treat like dirt: her breaking down in tears of anger at Manglehorn’s treatment of her is the only moment of genuine emotion to be found here. If Green (Joe) and Pacino (Stand Up Guys) set out to deliberately try our patience and dare us not to give a whit about Manglehorn, they succeeded.


See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Manglehorn for its representation of girls and women.


red light 1.5 stars

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Manglehorn (2015)
US/Can release: Jun 19 2015 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: Aug 07 2015

MPAA: rated PG-13 on appeal for some sexual content and language, and for accident and surgery images
BBFC: rated 12A (moderate sex references, infrequent strong language)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    ObWSICATP: “Why Should I Care About This Person?”. I know, no man is an island, but I’m not a saint, and I find most people very dull. A film has to be interesting, to me, or it fails.

  • Me too.

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