Funniest possible viewer of this movie would be someone who’s a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory and watched this without knowing anything about it other than that Simon Helberg is in it. Their brains would melt before the puppet even shows up.

Helberg is heartbreakingly good in this, by the way. No idea why he limited himself for twelve years doing Big Bang Theory (yes I do, it was the money), but I hope he starts getting more dramatic work off of this performance. Marion Cotillard is always gonna be great because she’s Marion Cotillard, but I do think she was a little underserved by the script. Driver, though. Holy cow. Insanely committed physical performance, and in many ways, the culmination of everything he’s done in the last decade. If I wasn’t all-in on the notion of him being the best American actor of his generation before, I definitely am now.

I also really enjoyed the movie’s commentary on celebrity worship. Henry is presented as the darker of the two, and the contrast between their performances is that he “kills” his audience whereas she “saves” hers. They’re both just as bad in their own ways, though, because the audience is buying into the self-importance of art and stretching it to its logical extremes. It’s nice when art has an impact on us, but we can’t rely on it to save us or tell us the truth. And artists can talk all day about the value of doing the work and creating something important, but at the end of the day, it’s still just silly lines and silly pictures on a silly screen or stage. The audience doesn’t turn on Henry because of what he’s done. It’s just the logical extension of what his act has always been. They turn on him because they’ve equated taste with morality and importance now it’s coming back to bite them.

This movie will almost certainly get no Oscar attention in the major categories, but holy shit does the production designer deserve a medal. These sets look gorgeous. The boat scene? Mwah!

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