When times are tough you can bond with pretty much anyone, despite conflicting political views or vast lifestyle differences. Everyone can relate to basic human misery. That simple connection can create unlikely friendships, and those friendships can accomplish amazing things. That’s pretty much how World War II was won. That improbable relationship may take a dark turn in “The Collaborator” but that relationship is the heart of the movie.
“The Collaborator” stars a once-successful playwright, Robert Longfellow (Martin Donovan), now critic cannon fodder, going back to his childhood home in an attempt to collect himself. In his wonderings for reinvention, he contemplates a screenwriting project, contacts an old flame, and has a beer with his ex-con neighbor, Gus (David Morse). Gus and Robert grew up as neighbors but they mostly avoided each other due to their massive gap in personalities. Gus is an intimidating ex-con with a wobbly mental state and Robert is a timid writer who puts himself on a social pedestal. But what the hell – neither are where they want to be in life, and misery loves company. It’s good for both of them to set aside their differences and allow their problems to deflate in each others’ company. Then there’s a knock at the door, and it turns out Gus has a gun.
A SWAT team has assembled and they want to use Robert’s home as a base to engage Gus’. Apparently, Gus robbed a liqueur store and killed the clerk. Gus takes Robert as a hostage and Robert’s house gets surrounded by flashing lights and authority figures. What would you do now? You’re a hostage to a man you’ve avoided most of your life. Wait – there’s still beer and drugs? So, don’t let a life-threatening hostage situation get in the way of binging and bonding!
When it comes down to it, this isn’t really a hostage situation. Gus isn’t a threat to Robert, and both men sense that. Gus is just using the gun as a tool to lengthen his time with Robert. After a moment to settle themselves the two go right back to hanging out. They drink, smoke pot, argue, role play, talk about the creative process, divulge personal problems, call ex-girlfriends, and reflect on their lives.
This is Martin Donovan’s directoral debut, and an impressive one at that. “The Collaborator” is not a perfect film, but it displays a lot of potential for Martin Donovan’s directing career. The movie looks slick, the acting is solid, and it has its own voice. What make it easy to sit through are the smaller moments between Gud and Robert. Most hostage movies rely on the negotiations and threats of violence. Those scenes are tossed aside here so that conversations of revelation can be focused upon.
Overall, this is a solid piece of cinema with sparse moments of melodrama. I feel like this movie had a little more potential than its final product showed, but it’s pretty great nonetheless. The ending felt a tad rushed to me, but the rest of the movie had a pretty steady pace. I think the ending was more a product of the scenario than the editing. Hostage situations don’t have a wide variety of outcomes (except for the movie “Swordfish”).
- I always liked David Morse. If they ever made a live-action “Dark Knight Returns,” he would make a good Batman.
-When I search for “The Collaborator” on IMDB it takes me to “The Collaborator and His Family.” Why? I usually have to look up this movie through David Morse’s IMDB page.
- …Now I just want to see a live action version of “Dark Knight Returns.” Wayne Kramer, John Hillcoat, Darren Aronofsky, or Tarsem would be good choices as directors.
- UPDATE: I incorporated “The” when “Collaborator” is the actual title.