The Longest Week (2014)
Written by Peter Glanz and Juan Iglesias
Directed by Peter Glanz
(available to stream on Netflix)
I stumbled upon this movie via Netflix and was attracted to it because of its cast, most notably Olivia Wilde and Billy Crudup, two of my favorite actors. This is a story of privilege, of self-realization, of friendship, of obsession, and of growing up (even if said growing up doesn’t take place until our lead is in his forties). I am admittedly not usually a fan of stories about unhappy rich people (ask anyone who knows me well how I feel about J.D. Salinger, and the Glass Family, for example), probably because I grew up miles and miles and miles from privilege, but this one I surprisingly enjoyed. It reminded me of a favorite film of mine, Where the Heart Is (no, not the one with Natalie Portman, but this one, with Uma Thurman and Crispin Glover), a similar story about what happens when rich adult kids lose their Parents’ financial support.
Conrad Valmont (Jason Bateman) has spent most of his life living in leisure at his parent’s prestigious Manhattan Hotel. His parents, who have been absent since his early teens, suddenly realize they no longer want to be married, and no longer wish to support Conrad any longer (he is in his early forties, for heaven’s sake). Without any warning Conrad is evicted from his hotel suite, leaving him with nothing but a few bags of belongings and seemingly nowhere to go. He even loses his chauffeur.
On a subway ride to see his oldest friend, he sees Beatrice (Olivia Wilde), a stunning woman who is reading a book and making eyes at him. Olivia’s eye-make-up is a force to be reckoned with, harkening to the 60’s New York fashion scene. I only mention this because it is impossible not to notice, and like Conrad, be drawn in to her stare. Beatrice hands him her number as she gets off at her stop, and nothing more.
On arrival at his oldest friend, Dylan Tate’s (Billy Crudup) place, he is told very quickly that Dylan has met a woman. In a comedy of errors that only cinema (and stage plays) seem to offer, said woman is Beatrice, the woman from the subway. This commonality of attraction seems to be a pattern with said friends, who are both competitive by nature, and secretly envious of each other. Dylan agrees to let Conrad stay with him under the auspice that the hotel Conrad resides in is under-repair, and with that, our story begins.
As with so many films written/directed by men, I found myself wishing that Beatrice was more flushed out as a character. She seemed destined to be a plot device of two men’s competition and desires, and nothing else. I wanted her to be so much more than that. In comparison, Conrad and Dylan were fully realized characters, and though I’m often not fond of the characters that Jason Bateman plays, this one I found myself really feeling for, even if most of the time he was quite unlikable.
The ending did seem to veer into unrealistic, “and then he became a good person and learned his lesson” territory that felt forced and contrived to me. But, the journey to that end was not just believable, but enjoyable to watch. My favorite moments were between Dylan and Conrad, and those of Conrad alone, during his missteps and personal denials, and ultimately realizations. I loved some of the subtle humor, too, especially in regards to a gifted Volvo (you’ll have to see it to understand).