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(Review originally written at 14 January 2006) 

Great acting, solid story and all beautifully told and combined. This is one fine character movie that makes a powerful impression.

The movie is truly one fine character study. It slowly and perfectly tells the story of one man, who starts of as a fragile person who tries to make things work out for him. He tries to get a steady job, tries to get back to his wife and children and tries to get a loan to build up his own company with his best and perhaps only friend in life. He however is not very lucky in life and when everyone and everything seems to be turning against him, he slowly becomes more and more desperate and even maybe subtly descents into madness. He starts blaming his situation more and more on the bureaucracy and president Nixon in particular, which all makes him mentally an even more unstable person, which eventually leads him into doing a desperate act.

The movie is build up to the fantastic climax that works very powerful and is unforgettable. The movie will leave you silent afterward and will perhaps even give you a feeling of sickness and depression.

Leave it up to Sean Penn to portray a understandable, strong and believable character. I don't like him as a person but he surely is one of the best actors in the business at the moment. His performance in this movie is truly powerful and is the main reason why this movie works so incredibly well on almost every level. Other strong characters in the movie are portrayed by Naomi Watts, Don Cheadle and the surprisingly good Jack Thompson. This is a real character movie and every character in the movie is portrayed both subtle and wonderful.

Niels Mueller is certainly a talented new director who knows how to build up a movie without falling into some obvious clich├ęs and always remain both powerful and believable in the storytelling of the movie.

A near masterpiece that works very powerful. Truly a must-see in my opinion.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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