DIR: Julian Farino • WRI: Ian Helfer, Jay Reiss • PRO: Anthony Bregman, Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech • DOP: Steven Fierberg • ED: Carole Kravetz Aykanian, Jeffrey M. Werner • DES: Dan Davis • CAST: Leighton Meester, Hugh Laurie, Alia Shawkat, Allison Janney
Drama-comedies set in suburbia are, by and large, staid affairs with bland characters, thrust into extraordinary situations. Naturally, The Oranges does nothing to buck this trend. Set in New Jersey, it follows the lives of the Wallings (Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener, Adam Brody and Alia Shawkat) and the Ostroffs (Oliver Platt, Allison Janney and Leighton Meester) and a tumultuous affair between Hugh Laurie’s bored advertising exexcutive and his neighbour’s daughter (Leighton Meester). While this may echo the vastly superior American Beauty, it has none of its charm, beauty or intelligence. Although he’s worked extensively on TV, this is director Julian Farino’s first attempt at making a feature-length film. Unfortunately, this isn’t one to hang his hat on.
Hugh Laurie puts in a measured performance as the tired, worn-out husband to Catherine Keener’s highly-strung choirmaster of a wife, likewise Oliver Platt and Allison Janney work well together as a couple. Leighton Meester is somewhat intriguing as the vacuous, impulsive daughter who’s the object of everyone’s affection whilst Alia Shawkat is criminally underused as the voice of reason and, for the most part, sarcasm. All actors involved are far better than the material and Julian Farino’s boring direction does nothing to motivate or elevate their performances in any way. As well, the script is blatantly geared towards it being a middle-aged man’s ultimate fantasy; being found sexually attractive by a younger woman even though you’ve a noticeable bald patch. It’s not that it’s wildly unbelievable for it to happen in real life, it’s that the dialogue feels so forced and wooden that you can’t help but taken out of it completely.
There’s nothing overtly offensive about The Oranges, it’s that there’s nothing completely memorable about it either. None of the performances are particularly compelling, the script is languid and beige and Julian Farino’s direction is mediocre at best. The whole premise itself has been done before and done better, so that itself offers nothing new. Overall, The Oranges is a boring film with no real message, character or feelings to take away from it.
Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
The Oranges is released on 7th December 2012
The Oranges – Official Website
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