Everyone has once in a while dreamed of taking on a new name, a new identity and hitting the road in search of some other truth than the one currently inhabiting our lives. In Arthur Newman, Oscar winner Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) does just that.
Arthur Newman stars Colin Firth and Emily Blunt as two souls who meet under the guise of names that are not their own and their connection will lead each to their own personal truths.
Firth is a divorced father to a son who has no desire to know him at all. His ex-wife isn’t that rosy either. His girlfriend (Anne Heche) adores him, but it is not enough for him to stay in his Florida town and continue his life as he knows it. So, he fakes his own death, assumes the titular character’s name, buys a Mercedes convertible and hits the road. According to the new Mr. Newman, no one will miss him.
Almost immediately he meets Blunt’s Mike, a woman who, it turns out, is pretending to be her twin sister who is locked up in a mental institution. She is escaping a life filled with bad relationships and even worse vocational prospects. As shown in the Arthur Newman trailer, the two of them immediately hit it off and the actors possess a chemistry that is utterly electric.
Dante Ariola directs from a screenplay by Becky Johnson (Seven Years in Tibet) and their story fluctuates from the themes of hope, loss and longing -- and what better actors to inhabit those themes than Blunt and Firth? Unfortunately, it does not quite add up to the promise of its premise and cast.
Arthur Newman is a bit clunky in terms of it seeming like it wants to be a road trip movie, masked in a self-discovery tale. Newman has dreams of being a golfer and he is extremely good at the sport. But, as we learn through the film in videos on YouTube, he was notorious for choking in the most inopportune of times.
One can see why Firth’s character is so desperate, but the screenplay fails him at times in achieving a fully formed individual. Firth is astounding with what he does with very little and it speaks to his awesome talent. And Blunt finds herself portraying a woman who, when all is said and done looking back over the film, doesn’t appear to be someone who would put up with the garbage that are the men in her life.
Fans of Firth (and there are millions) will find the role and this film a departure. He uses an American accent (quite well) and his nuances bring power to a character that is not fully defined by its script. Overall, our Arthur Newman review wants to recommend the film, but by the narrowest of margins.