REVIEW: Houston

21 04 2013

RiverRun International Film Festival

As many of you reading this review may know, I am a proud Houstonian.  I could not be more grateful to grow up in such a great town, full of culture and vitality.  In my lifetime, I have seen it grow to become the third-largest city in the country (and also its most diverse, apparently).  A lot of great things are happening there, in case you haven’t clued into it.  In fact, it’s the setting for a new movie made by … a German.

That’s right, of all cities in America, Bastian Günther chose my hometown of Houston.  Granted, it’s the natural city to set a drama about energy trading in, but it could easily have been another New York or Los Angeles film.  His “Houston” is something decidedly different than one of those travelogues, although I can’t say it’s anything extraordinary.  Had I not had that native pull, I don’t even know if I would have been even remotely interested in the film at all.

Houston

The movie is essentially a tale of corporate espionage, although with none of the excitement a film like “Duplicity” gives it.  Günther is cold, chilly, and removed.  He prefers a darker, subdued character study of Clemens Trunschka (Ulrich Tukur), an unlikable schlub sent to Houston to steal a CEO for his own German energy company.  He winds up getting befriended by an overly gregarious traveler sculpted from the Ryan Bingham mold, Garrett Dillahunt’s Wagner, in a clichéd subplot that adds nothing to the film save a few laughs.

Thankfully, it avoids being as miserably boring as Sofia Coppola’s dreadful (and to de-bracket my objectivity, overrated) “Lost in Translation.”  But how much of that is true for non-Houstonians i cannot say.  I was able to find some middling satisfaction in spotting Houston iconography, which also might have blinded me to some of the imagery being subversive.  But to be honest, I don’t really care to reexamine to find out for certain.  And I don’t want you, the unsuspecting viewer reading this review, to throw away nearly two hours of your life to find out for me.  C+2stars


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