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'The Virtuoso': Film Review – Hollywood Reporter

An expert murderer takes a difficult small-town task in a thriller starring Anson Mount, Abbie Cornish and Anthony Hopkins.

you are within the realm of the archetype when a film’s closing credit favor descriptors over character names: The Waitress, The Loner, The Mentor — and, before everything, The Virtuoso‘s anonymous title mercenary. Performed by Anson Mount in a tight-jawed register, he is a killer for rent whose armor is beginning to crack, ever so barely, after a success gone unsuitable. Nevertheless it takes greater than slightly guilt to cease a killer from killing, and it takes greater than a handful of archetypes and a smorgasbord of movie noir tropes to make a gripping drama.

Working from a screenplay by James Wolf that veers between the strained and the diverting, helmer Nick Stagliano (The Florentine, Good Day for It) has crafted a mildly intriguing style train greater than an involving story.

The main target is on character, however in the end the dramatis personae really feel like puzzle items relatively than folks. Nonetheless, inside the self-conscious narrative mechanics, Mount (Star Trek: Discovery) manages to discover a droll edge occasionally, Abbie Cornish injects some sexual warmth, and Anthony Hopkins supplies a little bit of actorly gravitas, significantly in a nine-minute graveside monologue about what it means to be soldier.

Placing The Virtuoso behind the eight ball from the get-go, although, is a gap sequence so clotted with explanatory voiceover that it finally ends up feeling like an advert spoof for The Virtuoso! — your old-school gentleman killer. Mount’s impeccably put-together murderer elucidates all of it for us: the weapons, the timing, the dangers, the charges, the need of a non-USPS mailbox.

An completed skilled who has by no means identified every other lifestyle, he lives in a state of fixed kill-or-be-killed readiness. A suspiciously cute canine begins exhibiting up at his remoted, off-the-grid cabin, sparking the primary hints {that a} coronary heart is certainly beating beneath the good-looking, affectless veneer. Earlier than encounters with the overall populace, Mount’s character practices primary human expressions within the mirror, feigning such reactions as curiosity, shock and delight.

Nevertheless it’s actual feelings that go away the icy-smooth professional reeling, in his manner (i.e., flashbacks and one good scream), after a quick-turnaround job ends in grotesque collateral injury. His handler, aka The Mentor (Hopkins), assures him, lower than convincingly, that “it is me, not you” earlier than explicating his cynical view of humanity and placing his protégé proper again to work, this time in pursuit of a quarry so “particular” that he can present solely the barest and most cryptic of figuring out particulars.

Which results in the puzzle sequence on the coronary heart of the movie: On a chilly afternoon our hitman walks into a rustic diner, finds it extra populated than he anticipated, and should determine which of the patrons is his prey. Right here the in any other case intrusive voiceover, with its insistence on stating the apparent in addition to the extraneous, grows fascinating. Placing DMV software program and his deductive powers to work, the educated skilled tries to learn the room filled with character-actor faces: a pair (Richard Brake, Diora Baird), a gun-packing loner (Eddie Marsan), a deputy sheriff (David Morse, who memorably performed a small-town lawman in Sean Penn’s excellent, Springsteen-inspired The Indian Runner).

The setup abounds in traditional noir components, from the roadside cafe with the sultry-eyed burger slinger (Cornish) to the edge-of-town motel manned by a jittery desk clerk. Within the latter function Chris Perfetti delivers a fascinating Norman Bates Lite flip, and the transient interactions between his flustered character and Mount’s executioner, making an attempt to play regular, have a satisfyingly wry vitality.

However the movie is most alive, and its dialogue only, within the double-entendre-packed exchanges between Mount and a commandingly sensuous Cornish. Her waitress is without delay grounded and mysterious, and she or he flirts with an exhilarating directness, virtually melting the perma-paranoia of Mount’s murderer.

Taking pictures in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains and on California’s Central Coast, Stagliano and DP Frank Prinzi preserve issues fittingly easy relatively than aiming for atmospheric flash. Their unfussy use of distant, woodsy settings fits the wintry story, which is strongest in its off-center observations and asides. The central puzzle fizzles extra with every flip of the plot, and The Virtuoso lastly looks like a sport, a not significantly compelling brainteaser. The payoff is smart, nevertheless it delivers far lower than meant.

Distributor: Lionsgate
Manufacturing corporations: Nazz Productions in affiliation with 120db Movies and Double Dutch Worldwide
Forged: Anson Mount, Abbie Cornish, Anthony Hopkins, David Morse, Eddie Marsan, Richard Brake, Diora Baird, Chris Perfetti
Director-producer: Nick Stagliano
Screenwriter: James Wolf
Government producers: Fred Fuchs, Nancy Stagliano, Anson Mount, Steve Hays, Peter Graham, Chris Bongiorne, Jason Moring, Mark Padilla, Stanley Preschutti
Director of images: Frank Prinzi
Manufacturing designer: Norm Dodge
Costume designer: Rita Squitiere
Editor: James LeSage
Music: Brooke Blair, Will Blair
Casting administrators: Stephanie Holbrook, Diane Heery, Jason Loftus

Rated R, 110 minutes

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