Besides Little Miss Sunshine, I went to another advanced film screening last week as well. It was a press showing of Shadowboxer in a small private professional theater with large comfy chairs, which my friend and I soon made ghetto by sneaking Subway sandwiches into it.
Shadowboxer stars Cuba Gooding Jr., Helen Mirren (Calendar Girls) and Stephen Dorff. I didn’t write a review of the film the next day like I usually do because the film was so F’d up, but in a good way. I still keep thinking of the many disturbing scenes and relationships that the story portrays and I am still not sure how to go about describing it. In essence it’s part Pulp Fiction, film noir and an independent art film. The story centers on Rose, a female assassin (Mirren), diagnosed with terminal cancer who decides to carry out one final killing assisted by lover, fellow assassin and also stepson, Mickey (Cuba). I had stated that the relationships were disturbing. Anyway, their job becomes complicated when their hit turns out to be for a pregnant woman (Vanessa Ferlito) about to give birth, who also happens to be the wife of a dangerous Philadelphia murderer and criminal.
Despite the very graphic sexual and violent scenes in the film, there are many artistic shots and religious symbolism throughout. Also, the gritty scenes are oddly juxtaposed to French classical compositions making the film even more complicated. I was continually being shocked and feeling uncomfortable, yet I walked away liking the film for these same reasons. The plot also progressed well and made up for its harsh beginnings. The film also marks the directorial debut of Lee Daniels, the producer of the Academy Award-nominated Monster’s Ball and The Woodsmen, which helps explain the film’s frank and harsh scenes.
I found it especially nice seeing Cuba really acting again instead of playing dumb and crazy in Snow Dogs and Rat Race and Helen Mirren is as classy as ever despite the harsh role. Macy Gray also stars as one of the supporting characters and plays the part of a drunken street girl all to well and may I add, her voice is so annoying. I mean, I like her music but have you heard her talk? Geez. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the boy from 3rd Rock from the Sun) stars as well and plays a corrupt doctor dating his nurse played by actress Mo’Nique, whose messed up relationship and characters I enjoyed.
Shadowboxer opens in limited release on July 21.