Wed 1 Jan 2014
‘Mr. Brooks’ is a curious combination. The casting succeeds to bring together on screen a few big stars just a fraction of second after the peaks of their careers (5 or 10 years before 2007 this film would probably have been to expensive to make because of the salaries of the actors). Set in the very urban landscape of Portland, it has a very ‘big studios’ look which combined with a story that seems to walk dangerously on the edge of melodrama made me think for a while that this will not be the last-viewed-in-2013 film I asked for. However, some place in the middle of the film the several rather conventional parallel threads start making sense and enhance the effect of each other. This seems to be the merit of director Bruce A. Evans who is also the co-writer of the script which seems to have been long in cooking and not easily accepted by the studios. For some good reasons from their point of view, which may be part of the reasons I liked it.
The story: Successful businessman Mr. Brooks (Kevin Costner) has it all (prosperous business, beautiful wife, loving daughter in college, the villa of anybody’s dreams) but also a double life. He kills at night, he is actually a serial killer who murders because of an addiction, and does it in the same quite, smart and organized manner he is running his business and his whole life which allows him to never get caught. He would quit killing but his dark side alter-ego would not let him (William Hurt), he is even some kind of Catholic praying to avoid sin all over the film. When he eventually makes one mistake the police-woman in charge with his case (Demi Moore) gets dangerously close, and a young pervert who photographed his last murder blackmails him into becoming his partner. Things get even more complicated, as the police-woman is entangled in an ugly divorce, and Brook’s daughter is in deep trouble having inherited some of her dad’s night habits. Will he be able to solve all these? Will he use the big talent we all know he has – being a serial killer?
I will not tell more because there is much to enjoy in this film and I would not like to discourage folks who happen to read this. I will just say that not only things come together surprisingly well from a story line point of view and the whole is much better than the parts, but that we also end as viewers by understanding the actions of the hero and to some extent sympathize with him (although in real life we would not have any reasons to do it). Kevin Costner’s acting is certainly part of the reason, and having him paired with William Hurt creates a couple with a formidable magnetism. Demi Moore also makes best of a role which is usually schematic in many movies but proves here to be more complex than expected. The telling of a disturbing story in a fluent and intelligent manner combined with the mid-high class setting makes for highly efficient cinema. It’s like when you taste a meal and it is spicy and surprising although you know it was prepared from many banal ingredients you can find in any supermarket. Bruce A. Evans is very scarce in his directing experiences. This film made in 2007 is actually only his second film, the first one was made in 1992! I really hope that we’ll not have to wait another 15 years to elapse until his next.