Film School Rejects viewed Mary’s new film Alex of Venice at the Tribeca Film Festival and gave their review. You can read highlights of it below and click the link to read it in full:
Mary Elizabeth Winstead has the “one to watch” thing down pat. The former teen actress has now blossomed into one of independent film’s most reliable and relatable leading ladies and her steady rise up the cinematic ranks – from the drunken darkness of Smashed to the dark humor of Faults, with a little The Thing and A Good Day to Die Hard thrown in for a touch of blockbuster fun– has long been someone worth watching, and now. For his directorial debut, actor Chris Messina has quite wisely built a story around Winstead’s charms, setting her up as the eponymous Alex for his Alex of Venice, an amiable outing that serves as yet another reminder that Winstead is more than enough of a draw on her own.
The duo star in the domestic drama as a long-time couple fractured and felled by apparently normal grievances. Alex (Winstead) is a hardcore workaholic, and her career as an environmentally minded attorney both fills the time and doesn’t quite pay the bills. George (Messina) is stuck with home-bound duties, from getting their son Dakota (Skylar Gaertner) off to school, maintaining the house, and even caring for Alex’s dad (Don Johnson, potentially playing himself). Alex may be exacting when it comes to her job, but George appears to be the truly pragmatic one – or, at least, that seems to be the role he’s been shoved into by Alex and the demands of their home life – and when he starts exploding around Alex, their son, and his father-in-law, there’s little question that something is going to fall apart soon.
Winstead can telegraph more with a head tilt or a flicker of her eyes than most of her generation can do with a wild hand toss and a mess of expositional dialogue. She’s consistently and completely engaging as Alex, and the film suffers when we’re not around her and stuck elsewhere. Messina surely knows what he has on his hands here – after all, the best choice he possibly could have made for his first feature was to cast such a capable leading lady – but both he and the film should have held more fast to its own shooting star.
The Upside: Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance is the highlight of the film, but both Don Johnson and Katie Nehra also turn in lovely work; the film’s tone is consistent and bright; addresses big issues with an honest spirit.
Final Grade: B-