There are certain actors I would prefer not hearing speak with an American accent, and Colin Firth is at the top of that list despite his ability to do so convincingly. Arthur Newman is a strange and haphazardly written screenplay, saved from complete and utter independent film mediocrity with leading performances by two Brits giving an American accent a whirl for no reason other than the novelty of showing off the actors’ abilities. The end result is a mildly amusing and entirely forgettable road trip film.
I’m not sure when or why it became such a huge trend for independent films to hit the road, but the independent road movie has become a bigger staple at the Sundance film festival than comic book movies are to summer release. The ‘getting-to-know-you’ aspect of long journeys are fitting for the excessive dialogue often required of an independent, as well as setting up situations for strangers to meet and reconciliations to be had. In this particular cliché, a man is running from his past with an attractive new stranger along for the ride.
Firth stars as the title character, Arthur Newman, although that is not his real name. Tired of his mild existence as a bank employee, dating a girl he is not really interested in (played perfectly pathetic by Anne Heche), and the son who acts as though he doesn’t exist, Wallace Avery fakes his own death and hits the road with the new identity of Arthur Newman. Convinced that he can start his new life over as a golf pro across the country, Wallace/Arthur escapes his old life for a new one.
Fates intervene when our protagonist crosses paths with an unpredictable woman going by the name of Michaela (Emily Blunt), despite also having a stolen identity. These two bond in a bizarre way that quickly becomes more fetish than affection. As they travel across the country together, they find couples that they pretend to be in order to avoid being themselves. They have something of a relationship, although only finding intimacy when pretending to be other people.
The Blu-ray includes a behind-the-scenes featurette.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 4/10
Disc Features: 4/10