Knocking around for some time under the alternative title Arthur Newman, this low key road movie has been repackaged and flogged under Arthur And Mike. Considering the less than favourable reviews it has received under its original title maybe it was felt a Firth/Blunt drama would fare better without that bad press preceding it. Sneaky, right?
irth is Arthur Avery, a mousy Fed Ex employee who stages his own death, takes on the eponymous identity, and hits the road, leaving behind a secretly relieved ex-wife (Kristin Lehman), a frustrated teenage son (Hedges) and a miffed lover (Heche). Before he has a chance to be Newman, he meets and falls for Emily Blunt's dishevelled mess – her unpredictability is an anomaly in his staid world, as his kindness is in hers. They soon begin breaking into people's homes to assume their identity for a clumsy tryst before moving on…
f the road movie does one thing, if there is one similarity between Midnight Run, Lord of the Rings or Apocalypse Now (yes, that's a road movie) it's that it sets up clearly the reason to hit the road before it hits it. This is so the audience don't ask why everyone just doesn’t go home when increasingly difficult obstacles block their path to the destination.
ut Becky Johnston's script (Seven Years In Tibet, The Prince Of Tides) does the opposite: when we meet Firth he's in medias res – everything has been planned and he's ready to go; he's already practicing his new voice. It's only around the halfway mark that that Johnston goes about filling in the whys and wherefores - it takes a few midnight motel confession scenes to really understand Firth and Blunt here (they're not spoilers but since Johnston went to the trouble of delaying this info it wouldn't be right to divulge). These scenes of honesty dovetail with the strange development of their desire to be other people, and the exploration of why they can only find happiness in the skin of someone else.
t's an interesting premise and it could so easily have worked but it just doesn't mesh. Firth and Blunt are, as expected, solid in the roles but they can't make the leap from two lost souls on the road to horny identity thieves and back again.
ikeable, but underpowered and unbelievable.
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