Nobel Son Movie Review (1.5 Stars)

Movie Review by Michael Phillips


Alan Rickman in the Nobel Son
Alan Rickman

A ripe premise left out in the sun too long, co-writer and director Randall Miller's "Nobel Son" stars Alan Rickman as a snotty university chemistry professor married to a forensic psychiatrist, played by Mary Steenburgen.

Their son (Bryan Greenberg) spends his academic life sitting around coffeehouses playing his Game Boy and mulling his thesis on cannibalism.

Dad wins the Nobel Prize in chemistry, but rather than accompanying his folks to Stockholm, son Barkley has the bad manners to get kidnapped by a sociopath with a taste for blood (Shawn Hatosy) and a plan to extort the Nobel Prize winner for $2 million in ransom money.

Rickman can play an imperious rotter in his sleep.

As in the other recent Miller film, "Bottle Shock" (shot after this one, but released before), Rickman tones up the flabby material. His sneer is, of course, incomparable. Despite a dull performance from Greenberg, the actors aren't the problem with this cockamamie mash-up of revenge thriller and black comedy. Miller, who co-wrote the script with his wife, Jody Savin, and who also edited the footage like a man with serious, perpetual distractions, never settles on a style or an effective clash of tones.

"Nobel Son" was shot on 35 mm film, but the digital color timing gives everything a grim bluish pall. The results look like the cruddiest digital video possible.

I enjoyed Eliza Dushku's mad poetess, probably for the wrong reasons, but with a project this meager, you take your artful sneers and scenic diversions where you can get them.



MPAA rating: R (for some violent gruesome images, language and sexuality).

Running time: 1:50.

Starring: Alan Rickman (Eli Michaelson); Bryan Greenberg (Barkley Michaelson); Shawn Hatosy (Thaddeus James); Mary Steenburgen (Sarah Michaelson); Bill Pullman (Max Mariner); Eliza Dushku (City Hall); Danny DeVito (George Gastner).

Directed and edited by Randall Miller; written and produced by Jody Savin and Randall Miller; photographed by Michael J. Ozier; music by Paul Oakenfold and Mark Adler; production design by Craig Stearns. A Freestyle Releasing release.


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