I dig character actors. I’m not really into movie stars; I can’t think too many “stars” who I trust to give me a good movie experience every time. I’m much more apt to trust directors than actors.
But characters actors, they usually deliver. They don’t have weight of an entire film on their shoulders, so they can do more interesting things with the material they’re given. They can try out things and experiment.
So Collaborator, a film anchored by two character actors, is really my cup of tea.
Martin Donovan is a familiar face. I’m used to him playing straight-laced and uptight characters. They usually follow the rules and are often in positions of power. And he had that awesome turn as Peter Scottson on Weeds.
The fact that Donovan acted, directed and wrote Collaborator was very intriguing. Sometimes when an actor branches out it can be mess. But usually it’s worth watching. Plus he had David Morse along for the ride and that guy is always dependable.
Collaborator is very much like a play, which is appropriate given that it’s about a playwright. Much of the action takes place with two characters sitting in a house talking. Of course it’s more than just talking as a gun, alcohol and drugs are added to the mix to increase tension.
It’s an interesting look at class, given that these two characters basically grew up in the same place and ended up in drastically different situations. One has casual relationships with movie stars, while the other worships the same movie stars. Gus loves the country and hates what it’s become, while Robert can only see what’s wrong with the United States and can’t help but point it out. But both characters are down on their luck, it’s just one has been luckier up to this point.
Morse’s portrayal of Gus is very strong. Gus is your typical blue collar worker; he doesn’t want more than he deserves and what he really wants is someone he can share a beer with. Morse really shines when Robert gives him glimpses behind the creative curtain via an improv exercise and a phone call.
And Donovan plays Robert Longfellow as a guy having a rough patch, who’s day only gets worse when Gus comes over. He has an even-keeled guy, despite being held hostage, never really loses control.
In fact their performances are so strong that you almost lose sight of the fact that things only occasionally get tense enough to cause worry. If there’s any real flaw in Collaborator, it’s that you don’t fear an unfortunate outcome.
But it’s very much worth watching, even if it’s only to see renowned Melissa Auf der Maur put in a performance as a worried wife.