The story of an amiable enough soul, albeit completely out of touch with reality, the son of a millionaire hotel magnate, Jason Bateman’s Conrad Valmont, is a trust fund forty-year-old that hasn’t had to work a day in his life. When his parents decide to separate, he is cut off from the family fortune and thrown out of his plush rooms at their Manhattan hotel. Now what can this previous clueless silver-spooned idiot do?
If you’re getting flashbacks of Dudley Moore (or, god forbid, Russell Brand) in Arthur, then we shouldn’t really be surprised. The premise is much the same, but that is where the similarity ends. As the title of the film would suggest, this is the story of one week in Conrad’s life and it is sometimes easy to forget this fact as he seemingly manages to cram so much into one week that it appears unbelievable that this could actually be achieved .We are reminded of this on occasion by several of the cast so it is safe to say that this is not an accident in the story-telling but maybe a more nuanced hint that Conrad’s world runs at something of a different pace to everyone else’s.
In this short week, he moves in with old friend Dylan (Crudup) then meets and promptly steals his girlfriend, Beatrice (Wilde), being careful not to admit just how destitute he is, for fear that she will lose interest in him immediately. Conrad, in fact, seems to have trouble being honest with anybody, and that includes himself.
Bateman’s sometimes deadpan approach to characterisation doesn’t always work, but on this practically clean slate, it is a welcomed trait. Conrad is experiencing many new things and like a wide-eyed infant on seeing snow for the first time, his wonder is very satisfying to witness.
He is ably supported by both Crudup and Wilde, but this is really Bateman’s gig if we’re honest, attempting, albeit in a ludicrously short space of time, to present the changes that this man goes through to get to what we feel is a more whole and rounded human being. Encompassing this into a week is maybe a little difficult to pull off as we all know through our own experiences, this is far more of a trial than we are supposed to believe here. As is evidenced here, it is good to have forgiving friends, whether you are fabulously wealthy or not.
In short, an entertaining and often amusing visit to a week in one mans’ rather odd life. Never to be accused of being either authentic or realistic, this doesn’t stop this effort from being entirely watchable throughout with some engaging performances and a sometimes witty, but always impressive, script.
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