CINEMA: The Hissing Of Summer Lawns


DAVID EDELSTEIN: A middle-aged husband is cast out, forced to move his belongings and furniture (including his comfy easy chair) to his lawn, where he sits getting blotto—until a young couple invades his new world, mistaking it for a yard sale. […] That lawn with its scraps of a ruined life is a setting both satirical and poignant, and Will Ferrell gives a performance of Chekhovian depth. I’d say Ferrell’s work is a revelation, except it isn’t. Even in slapstick comedies like Step Brothers, he shows a delicate touch, his child-men holding onto a defensive arrogance that barely conceals their helplessness. As Nick Halsey in Everything Must Go, he goes to the far side of that arrogance. Having lost his sales job and home, Nick has no more illusions to which to cling—only booze and an easy chair, neither of which can hold off reality for long. MORE

A.O. SCOTT: This sad, surreal spectacle of domesticity turned literally inside out — lamps sitting in the sunlight, a recliner where a lawn chair should be — is what links “Everything Must Go” to its source, a short story by Raymond Carver called “Why Don’t You Dance?” The story, like so many of Carver’s, is a jagged shard of painful absurdity, a glimpse of the human condition that the film, written and directed by Dan Rush, expands into a picture window. From a few pages of oblique dialogue and terse prose, Mr. Rush extrapolates a narrative that is less jarring and more familiar than anything in Carver, but nonetheless true to the writer’s tough, compassionate and intimately knowing apprehension of masculine defeat. Mr. Ferrell turns out to be an almost perfect embodiment of this theme. He is large, a little ungainly and charismatic without quite being handsome, and somehow able to seem at once exquisitely self-conscious and utterly obtuse. There is no shortage of overgrown man-boys in American movies right now, but none that so aptly embody John Updike’s definition of a grown man as “a failed boy.” MORE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *