Review: The Favor

It mostly works as an example of how difficult it is for Generation X to serve as parental figures for the millennial generation.

The Favor
Photo: 7th Art Releasing

Eva S. Aridjis’s The Favor mostly works as an example of how difficult it is for Generation X to serve as parental figures for the millennial generation; sociologists have noted how both generations have an overly healthy sense of self-regard but a constant need for reassurance. Actually, processing the film by way of its portrait of age brackets is about the only way one could look at this timid film other than as an overlong character study. Both Lawrence, a just over-the-hill mug shot photographer without much of a life to speak of, and Johnny, the scrawny, sullen teenage son of his once (and probably only) girlfriend, are portrayed as self-abnegating and self-medicating loners, respectively. When Johnny’s mother dies in a freak accident (caused implausibly by her son’s guitar cord) and his grandfather drifts ever further toward wheelchair-bound cognitive obsolescence, Lawrence takes it upon himself to fill in as the boy’s surrogate father. What initially registers as an act of unconditional love begins to reveal itself as a possible act of romantic retribution from a cuckold. As Johnny is ruefully happy to note whenever Lawrence makes a tentative stab at discipline, his real father was the man his mother dumped Lawrence for. Meanwhile, Johnny reveals himself to be more than just a mere pill; he’s actually a flowering juvenile delinquent who can’t figure out why skipping class and moving dope for his spineless, Crispin Glover lookalike pusher doesn’t win him the affections of the girl next door with the 4.0 GPA, to say nothing of beating up her gay best friend in a fit of jealousy.The Favor is unfortunately a formal double for its main character Lawrence (in, it must be noted, a bravely pale and diffident performance as an archetypal gray-wad before his time). It’s sensitive and understated, but doesn’t ever end up communicating anything other than its own capacity for sensitive understatement.

 Cast: Frank Wood, Ryan Donowho, Isidra Vega, Paige Turco  Director: Eva S. Aridjis  Screenwriter: Eva S. Aridjis  Distributor: 7th Art Releasing  Running Time: 110 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2007

Eric Henderson

Eric Henderson is the web content manager for WCCO-TV. His writing has also appeared in City Pages.

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