MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Longest Week’ Is A Wes Anderson Film Without The Whimsy

Film: The Longest Week
Starring: Jason Bateman, Billy Crudup
Directed by: Peter Glanz

While watching this oft-times lifeless tale about the bourgeoisie never growing up, I imagined a universe in which Wes Anderson and author Jonathan Ames may have met and collaborated. Anderson being the indie favorite director of such visually delectable films as The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Royal Tenenbaums while Ames’ authorial work was developed into the HBO show Bored to Death (which is gut-bustlingly hilarious). The Longest Week can’t quite seem to rise to the brilliance that these two artists could create together but performances from Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde, and Billy Crudup somewhat make the material more than a bit bearable.

The Longest Week follows 40-year-old child Conrad Valmont (Jason Bateman) who has been cut off of his silver spoon living after his parents (amid a looming divorce) decide that it was time for him to get a job. After being kicked out of the lush hotel he has been raised in since birth, Conrad goes to live with his intellectually and monetarily rich friend Dylan Tate (Almost Famous’ Billy Crudup). Without telling Dylan about his plight with money, Conrad meets a woman who he sees as an antidote to all of his past troubles with women. This woman who echoes the beauty of a 40’s-era starlet is Beatrice Fairbanks (Olivia Wilde), a model who struggles with the idea of romance.

Obvious Child’s Jenny Slate, who plays Beatrice’s talkative friend Jocelyn, at one point during the film makes an argument against why she didn’t like the play that her and the other main characters just experienced. This is her exact quote:

Jocelyn: “How am I supposed to care about a group of over-privileged affluent types who go gallivanting around without any sense of moral compass?”

Only on rare occasions do I find a line of dialogue that echoes my exact thoughts on a certain film. Here though, Conrad, Beatrice, and Dylan react to her character’s words as if they are totally okay with being those types. This kind of overt self-parody that The Longest Week employs a couple of times during its runtime is extremely off-putting and only adds to the emotionally distant narrative that it carries out.

Changing one’s ways is the hot button issue in The Longest Week, akin to Royal Tenenbaum’s character arc in The Royal Tenenbaums. We watch Conrad wade through a swath of bad decisions that mostly include lying, much like the mentality that a child inhibits. We follow this selfish character as he gallivants around without any sense of a moral compass (yes, exactly like how Jocelyn criticized the play). It’s not that Conrad isn’t funny or charming, it’s that his plight with growing up is the least interesting thing about the whole film even though it is at the narrative’s core. 

Peter Glanz, the writer and director of The Longest Week, uses cues from Wes Anderson’s work with somewhat lavish reproductions of settings and locations that the New York City bourgeoisie may inhabit.  Everything from the bold typeface to introduce a certain act of the film to the portrait shots of characters staring into nothingness as they question themselves is used here as it has been before in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Royal Tenenbaums. Where Glanz falters is trying to match the visually palpable aesthetic that Anderson employs in every single one of his films. It’s an honest effort to create something so uniquely stylized but it doesn’t help the narrative.

The Longest Week is another film in 2014 that focuses on a main character that panders on about his future, as he doesn’t have much money to work with. This theme follows the same suit that Matthew Weiner’s Are You Here and Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here played. Luckily in this, that tired foray into a person’s psychology isn’t as played out as the other efforts this year. The viewer gets small glimpses of worthwhile material in Bateman, Crudup, and Wilde. It’s just a damn shame that these characters couldn’t find footing in a more understandable and worthwhile story.


Review written by: Sam Cohen (Follow him on Twitter)

Sam Cohen
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