Discover more from (All (Parentheses))
Time Out New York Project: Issue #804, March 17-23, 2011
Dir. Neil Burger. 2011. PG-13. 105mins. Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish.
Wunderkind financier Eddie Morra (Cooper, perfectly cast) is on top of the world — unfortunately, not in a good way. He’s standing on a ledge outside his penthouse apartment with two choices: face the angry Russian mobsters pounding at the door behind him or splatter himself on the Manhattan street below. It’s the kind of situation that inspires feature-length, voiceover-heavy contemplation: How did he get here? Turns out that, a few months ago, Eddie wasn’t that different from all the other struggling schlubs who amble through life with stringy hair, couch-potato routines and books-in-perpetual-progress. But after a fateful encounter with his ex-brother-in-law, he comes into possession of a pill that unlocks the dormant corners of his brain (average humans, we’re told, use only 20 percent).
All Eddie has to do is pop one a day. Soon enough, that long-delayed book gets done, fluency in foreign languages — and the language of l-o-o-o-ve — is a snap, and a high-powered Wall Street type (De Niro) hires our now perfectly coiffed protagonist to broker a high-stakes merger. But what about those pounding headaches? Or the increasingly apparent loss of time? For a while, director Neil Burger seems to be treating Eddie’s story as a cautionary fable, especially in the heightened way he films the character’s enhanced state of mind. These sequences, with their lustrous, glinty-golden hues, seem like an intentional parody of Hollywood slickness, and the director makes superb use throughout of Gotham locales. But as we work our way back to that cliff-hanger of an opening, it becomes clear that the movie is no acid critique, but a hollow endorsement of high living. Guess every generation gets its Boiler Room.—Keith Uhlich