Noir films seem to stick around even when all else passes like a fad. Drive. Brick. Only God Forgives, just to name a few. Now, Richard and Michelle Gray team up to deliver The Lookalike, a rambling, rabbit hole-following film about a bunch of drug dealers in search of a lookalike girl to please their boss. It’s the kind of film where drug dealers chase a girl around town after the original girl is accidentally killed when a chandelier falls on her because someone shoved a desk. If you’re willing to go along for the ride, the entertainment value is in the character actors playing above their pay grade.
Jerry O’Connell stars as Joe, an ex-basketball player who sells drugs to earn enough to sponsor his own cooking show, wrestling with his brother, Holt (Justin Long, who also produced), his bosses Bobby and Frank (John Corbett and Steven Bauer), his loan shark, Vincent (Luis Guzman), and a new love life with the cancer-embattled Mila (Scottie Thompson). But after the original girl, Sadie (Gillian Jacobs) dies, the criminals latch onto Lacey (also Jacobs), who is part of a sting aimed at Joe’s drug business and ends up falling for Lacey himself. Complicated? Yes. Convoluted? Maybe. But in the end, it was hard to look away.
The film may be too chock-full of people, plot lines, and motivations for a two-hour window. There are cops involved in the sting; Bobby and Frank’s boss is not a nice guy. But ultimately, outside of Joe, Mila, Holt, and Lacey, we don’t really care about any of them, even though Vincent and Frank are probably the most colorful, nuanced characters in the whole thing! Both couples are broken, and have plenty of reason to want to find a new start, to tackle a new life away from the drugs (most illegal) and the grift. Both guys know they’ve found someone who makes them better, hence the ‘romantic thriller’ aspect. But it’s nearly an impossible battle for them based on the double-crossing, backstabbing way that the characters all operate. And, of course, it all hinges on John Savages’ baddie actually believing the girl who walks into the room is Sadie… which is a conceit I’m happy that I don’t have to argue.
If you want more, you can check out deleted scenes and background materials. Ultimately, the Blu-ray suffered a bit based on the muffled tones of dialogue in some scenes. But the last fifteen minutes of the film were some of the most thrilling I’ve seen this year, and worth a rent. rating: rainy day it