ONE MORE TIME
R, 96 mins.
2016, R, 96 mins.
Christopher Walken as Paul / Amber Heard as Jude / Kelli Garner as Corinne / Hamish Linklater as Tim / Ann Magnuson as Lucille / Oliver Platt as Alan / Henry Kelemen as David / Sandra Berrios as Lourdes / Gavin McInnes as Record Producer / John Ellison Conlee as Josh
Directed by Robert Edwards
Robert Edwards’ ONE MORE TIME is superficially about a dysfunctional family unit and an aging, washed up pop star, so thoughts of it spiraling out of control and into multiple overused and stale genre conventions were pretty overwhelming for me going in.
the film is quite a bit more perceptive and smartly defined with its
characters than I was frankly expecting.
The whole cast really invests in their respective roles with
appealing enthusiasm, which is greatly complimented by a screenplay that
peppers the narrative with dialogue exchanges that have a stark frankness
and spontaneity to them. That,
and we have, of course, the sublime pleasure of witnessing yet another
delightfully idiosyncratic performance by the great Christopher Walken,
whom dominates nearly every scene he’s in as his spotlight-hogging,
ONE MORE TIME is not primarily his character’s story, though, as it also concerns the plight of his semi-estranged daughter. The film opens on a delightfully droll scene as we're introduced to a young man and woman that are apparently in the process of capitalizing on a one-night-stand. He tries to put both of their minds at ease and secure the mood of the moment by placing an album on his turntable, which belts out an old school jingle from an iconic crooner. The woman very quickly and without hesitation asks the man to take the LP off and put something else on, to which he acquiesces. What we learn in the morning after is that the ageless album that the man wanted to play was from Paul Lombard (Walken), who used to be a widely successful and popular singer. His daughter, it turns out, is the same woman from this opening scene that requested the album be removed during her nocturnal makeout session.
Listening to her
daddy’s album while having sex with a stranger would be
Heard) has fallen on very difficult times. She’s a talented songstress
and musician just like her father, but has never fully capitalized on her
unique abilities. She’s
also about to be evicted from her Manhattan apartment, and with
substantial job prospects looking slim she reluctantly ventures out to her
father’s Hamptons home. As
soon as she arrives there tension between all family members can
immediately be felt. Her
constant refusal to call Paul “dad” irritates him almost as much as
“living in the slums of Hampton.” Paul seems affluent and prosperous, but he constantly wishes that
he did more with his career, which manifests now in his yearning to cut a
new album, more to satisfy the needs of his ego than any deep and burner
artistic ambition. Paul’s
home life is further distracted by his wife (the latest in a multitude, played
by Ann Magnuson), whom only he seems to love and respect.
Paul’s other daughter Corinne (Kelli Garner) uses the family home
as a second base of operations for her restaurant business.
Her husband (Hamish Linklater) does most of the stay-at-home
parenting duties, catering after the needs of their young son.
He may or may not still have feelings for Jude, seeing as there are
hints sprinkled through the narrative that they once were a potential
conflict in the film, predictably enough, is between Paul and Jude, and
even though it does cross off many of the clichés of failed
father/daughter relationships that we’ve seen countless times before in
other movies, Edwards still manages to infuse it with a multitude of well
written individual scenes that have a stinging sarcasm.
Paul seems to regret how his daughter never became a name in music
like him and failed to use her obvious and ample gifts, which frequently
angers Jude, who never really elevated her career beyond a punk band she was a
part of that’s somewhat disbanded now. Verbal standoffs between the pair cuts right to the heart of
their mutually resentment of one another (“I notice your contempt for
our music didn’t stop you from banging our drummer” she lashes out at
one point). Intriguingly,
Paul never falsely hides behind his past and current indiscretions.
He’s not a perfect or good man, per se, but he's a forthright
and self-critical one. His
desire to be a bit hit yet again with a new album annoys Jude to no
end. She calls him out for being an elderly joke in an industry
that laughs at his kind now, to which he pathetically, but convincingly
responds, “I know. You
don’t think I know that?”
Heard is a
limitlessly gorgeous woman, which often distracts viewers from noticing
that she’s a very competent actress when given the right material to
sink her teeth into. She’s
wholeheartedly credible as her pink-haired, goth inspired Jude that
seems to have big chips on her shoulder about…well…everyone and
everything around her. Heard
isn't afraid of not making her character endearing in any way.
The supporting cast, as mentioned, assembled around her is also
homogeneously solid, especially Kelli Garner in what could have been a
rather one-note wife role; instead, she infuses a lot of no-nonsense sass
and gumption in it. Oliver
Pratt also appears in a very Oliver Prattian role as the family lawyer,
who gets some of the film’s better laughs quipping at the expense of
Jude’s name. At one point
during a rather heated dinner conversation – during which time Jude
objects to her father’s insistence of launching a new record –
Pratt’s solicitor deadpans, “Hey Jude.
Don’t make it bad.”
But, c’mon, ONE
MORE TIME exists as an engine to let Christopher Walken loose.
The actor, as of late, belongs on a list of other iconic celebs
whose own highly eccentric brand of performance showmanship has made him the stuff of showbiz parody.
Yet, Walken is a rarity out of the bunch that seems to acknowledge
his own inherent weirdness and peculiar inflections as an actor and simply
goes with it as to not reduce himself to be the butt of self-mockery in
his films. Also, Walken is one of our greatest living actors, something that
gets lost on many film viewers, and the cool and efficient manner that he
slides into all of the tantalizing conundrums of Paul is a pure
delight to behold. In
particular, it’s a real trip to see the elderly star sing in a film
(often forgotten is the fact that he initially trained in musical theatre
before moving on to acting in film work) and a wondrously melancholic duet
he performs with Heard of Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s “Something
Stupid” is a bona fide highlight moment in ONE MORE TIME.
Walken’s vocals aren’t refined and polished, but rather more
compellingly reflect his own beguilingly weird aura that he brings to
every film he’s in.
ONE MORE TIME is
a bit too short for its own good. At
just 96 minutes, some of its various subplot threads lack development and
payoff, whereas many more are thrown at viewers that serve the purposes of
mechanically moving the story forward.
It also could easily be said that a family drama replete with
despondent and selfish people (some of which have had very productive and
rich lives) is emotionally arduous to endure (plus, Heard’s Jude,
despite her deep commitment to the role, never become a figure to fully invest
in and root for). Still,
Edwards remains quite adept throughout ONE MORE TIME at delivering
multiple scenes of family strife with an unforced naturalness and an
uncommon realism that many other similar films fail to generate.
He also seems unwilling to throw stones at any of his questionable
characters out of spite, nor is he inclined to make any of them completely
likeable either. In lesser
hands in front of and behind the camera, ONE MORE TIME could have wallowed
in crude caricature and insipid soap opera melodrama.
For the most part, Edwards crafts a mostly absorbing portrait of
self-absorbed people that manage to stick together despite their deeply
And we get to see Walken sing. That's a huge plus.