Movie Review – The Land of Steady Habits
Category : Movie Review
Director: Nicole Holofcener
I heart Ben Mendelsohn, and it would take me forever to list all the movies in which he is great, so do yourself a favor and look up his filmography, watch his films, search my reviews for the ones that feature his great performances specifically; just watch the guy. He’s brilliant, so talented, can do anything, can be a villain, can melt your heart, you just can’t go wrong watching his acting; it’s top level when compared with anyone currently active in Hollywood. He’s an Australian actor, sometimes he hides his accent, but that doesn’t usually dampen his skills, at least not any more than it naturally does to anyone else. My point is, he’s reason enough to see this movie, and any feature that he chooses to be a part of. But that’s doesn’t make the entire project a success, there are too many moving parts for that, and Steady Habits is a prime example.
Anders has recently decided to free himself of his burdens. He quit his lucrative finance job, he left his wife, he gave her the house, and he’s moved into a condo to retire and to chase random women. To some that would sound like the dream, but of course in reality Anders is rather lonely, hates decorating his new place, just wants his son Preston to come hang out, and can’t seem to let his ex-wife and his ex-home go without a twinge of both jealousy and anger. But hey, it was all his decision, he’s the one who wanted a fresh start, even though he’s no longer a young man, and he’ll have to live with the consequences. But doing drugs with Preston’s friend Charlie isn’t a great beginning, especially when Charlie ODs and later goes missing. Anders needs to start acting like an adult for the first time in his life, needs to take some responsibility for his stupidity and childish behavior, needs to settle the debts of his past so that the future can be something clean and bright.
Mendelsohn is fantastic yet again, there would be no reason to predict otherwise, but the rest of Steady Habits falls decidedly flat. Ben is great in any role, and he plays the part of a wealthy asshole very well, showing signs of kindness but ultimately reverting back to the fucked up safe place that is his baseline. It’s a fascinating character, and I saw a lot of truth in it, especially as a child of divorce who watched his own father attempt to become something completely different for the second half of his life. I didn’t see myself in Preston though, and I think the blame for that lies on Thomas Mann. He was not strong, and neither was his character, it needed to be either off to the side or more utilized, not stuck somewhere in the muddled middle where it could only get in the way. Edie Falco was also rather horrible, which shouldn’t be a shocker, she’s never proved that she could support such a dramatic character in a heavy film such as this. None of the weight was ever supported by anyone other than Mendelsohn, and the director never seemed in command of the direction the plot was heading. The result is a weak film with a few strong moments, not one of Netflix’ best and definitely not something to go out of your way to make time for.
My rating: ☆ ☆