DVD of the Week – The Lookout (2007)
by GEOFF GEIB
One of the great pleasures of The Lookout is the progression of the characters through the story in a logical, intelligent way but within a framework of inevitability. Things are not likely to end well for the participants, but none of them can escape who they are. The same technique is played to equally strong effect, but for tragedy rather than tension, in another recent film, Alpha Dog.
Ultimately, despite The Lookout’s many strong points (sharp dialogue, fun neo-noir presentation) the film belongs to the exceptional lead performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He portrays a young man whose life is irrevocably changed when a car accident causes permanent brain damage – and the more terrible pain of his friends’ suffering and death. His face constantly lends itself to a rich, inner world. How much of his former self is left? Is regret and frustration his only real sense of self? How do you define yourself when it’s almost impossible to say who you truly are?
Such probing questions are rarely brought to the forefront in The Lookout, but they’re never far from the surface, and it is a testament to Gordon-Levitt’s excellent performance that The Lookout works so well as both a straightforward thriller and a character piece.
Bonus features include commentary by writer-director Scott Frank (who wrote one of my favorite films, Out of Sight) and director of photography Alar Kivilo. There are also two featurettes, Sequencing The Lookout and Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt.