26 October 2012

Movies: The Magic of Belle Isle

The Magic of Belle Isle (2012)  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1839654/

Drama (Feel-good family type)

Monte Wildhorn, once an author of western novels, spends the summer in Belle Isle, a lakeside summer vacation town. His books are out of print, he has almost no income, his nephew set him up with a deal to stay in a cabin rent-free in exchange for taking care of the owner's dog for the summer. Monte plans to sit in his wheelchair and drink the summer away. Next door lives a recent divorcee and her three daughters. After the middle daughter learns Monte is a writer she "hires" him to teach her how he writes stories, how imagination works.

Stars Morgan Freeman as Monte, Virginia Madsen as next-door-neighbor Charlotte. Appearances by Fred Willard, Kevin Pollak and Kenan Thompson, although their characters only show up briefly and just to move the story forward in places. Directed by Rob Reiner.
Basically I watched the film specifically because it is a Rob Reiner film and Morgan Freeman is in it.

It is a feel-good family friendly film and it benefits from Reiner's directorial sensibilities. Good enough story, although a story seen played out before where curmudgeonly guy's stone cold heart is melted by a curious youngster and her family. But Freeman delivers just as one would expect from Freeman - spot on and fit for the role. The brief appearances casting of Willard, Pollak and Thompson work well in the context of the story because by seeing those actors you know their characters about without the film spending much time fleshing them out. Madsen does believably well and the kids playing the daughters capably fill out the film and make it feel real and unforced. The cast chemistry is perfect for the story. Some times the dialog sounded a little off from how people actually talk, but I think it was an intentional affectation to sell that local small sleepy summer town "magic" feeling.

Watching the film takes no effort, has no surprises and leaves you feeling warm inside.

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