The Benefactor – Blu-ray Edition

the benefactorAs he is aging Richard Gere is having a tough time finding his place in the film world. Should he take parts that challenge him?  Should he just play the handsome older guy?  Where does he fit in?  He continues to work (no shortage of that as he has made 15 films over the last 10 years) and tries to get back to the success he had earlier in his career.


Smaller films are fine.  Indie films can be of high quality.  Sometimes they even offer those involve more freedom than they would find in big studio pictures.  Though sometimes that ability to do just about anything (on a budget, of course) can be as restricting as being under the thumb of a large studio.  Underneath all that goes on in Andrew Renzi’s (Fishtail) there is a good story wanting to come out, but for a number of different ones it kinda gets stuck in the mud.


His two best friends are like family to Franny (Richard Gere – Pretty Woman, Chicago).  Bobby (Dylan Baker – from television’s The Good Wife) and Mia’s (Cheryl Hines – Waitress, Life After Beth) daughter is like the child he never had.  They are close.  So close that when they get into a deadly car accident one evening and he is the only one who survives, the very wealthy Franny becomes a recluse who is addicted to pain killers.


What pulls him out of his shell is when years later he reconnects with the now adult daughter of Bobby and Mia.  Olivia (Dakota Fanning – I Am Sam, Man on Fire) is now a young woman who is married to young doctor Luke (Theo James – Divergent, Underworld: Awakening).  The young couple are expecting their first child.  Having Olivia back in his life has brought a new sense of purpose back to Franny and he is intent on making the most of it.  He hires Luke on at the children’s hospital he runs and purchases the house Olivia used to live in as a child for the couple.  Franny becomes like their fairy godfather, but soon the attention he lavishes upon them becomes suffocating.  Luke begins to realize the extent of Franny’s addiction to pain killers and wants him away from his family.


There are some strange quirks about this film.  For instance, how come though Franny is pulled out of his recluse lifestyle by Olivia they never really interact until the end of the film?  He spends much of his time with Luke and not her.  Doesn’t make much sense to me.  Several problems like this with the story are just glossed over or swept under the rug.  Sloppy.


Tragically, the problems with the telling of the story overshadow what was a solid performance by Gere.  He makes what could have been a zany, one-note character layered and charismatic despite his faults.  You want him on the screen and you want Franny to get clean because you see that he is punishing himself due to the guilt from surviving the accident when his best friends didn’t.  Gere realistically brings us along with his character’s many moods from manic to empathy for the sick kids to despair for how he has ended up alone and broken.


It all moves along rather slowly, which in itself is not inherently bad, but it really offers nothing to the viewer.  Too bad, because as I previously stated, there is an interesting story looking to burst out from under.  Just is never allowed to happen.

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