The Vicious Kind
RATED - (R) -93-MIN-2009
Smart Script and Excellent Acting Highlight The Vicious Kind
This is a perfect of example of that “hidden gem” kind of movie, which was one of my reasons for doing a website in the first place. There are so many wonderful films, that maybe were well received when they came out by a few critics, but didn’t get the distribution it needed and now are forgotten, or hard to seek out. Some of them end up on Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu which you may or may not stumble upon. This is a wonderfully written, acted, and directed film that is well worth your time if you can find it.
Set late fall, in a chilly Connecticut town, (The Vicious Kind) tells a small story about a family that is fractured by an event in the past. The opening scene in the film, set in a diner, has an almost Tarantino-like feel to it, as older, chain-smoking, insomniac brother Caleb (Adam Scott, who is a revelation in this part) is waiting to pick up his younger brother Peter (Alex Frost) from college. Before they head back to their home for Thanksgiving, where their rough but loving Dad Donald (J.K. Simmons) lives alone, they have to pick up Peter's new girlfriend Emma (Brittany Snow). Peter is a virgin, and he still has that soft doughy innocent look in his eyes, as he has never had a broken heart. He still thinks love is the end-all be-all, and he is pretty fond of Emma. Caleb, on the other hand, has broken up with his girlfriend, is full of piss and vinegar, can't sleep at night, and has a tendency to sleep in his truck in front of his father's home. He thinks he can protect his younger brother by laying out the facts of life to him in regards to relationships. He loves his brother, and figures he would rather hit him with the truth now, instead of later, after this girl breaks his heart.
So, the opening in the diner, with Caleb letting Peter know what he thinks of this girl, and woman in general, is smart, funny, brutal and sad, all at the same time. It sets a perfect tone for the film to come. (Scott) tears up this first scene and the writing, which could have gone over the top and sound a bit scripted, is better because of how (Scott) as an actor, handles this scene. He is incredibly watchable here, and it took me a moment to figure out who he was, as he has a big unkempt beard in the film.Peter gets pissed and walks outside to cool off. This will happen several times in the film.
Afterward, they go and pick up Emma, and Caleb does his best to be civil, with his passive-aggressive behavior. Emma pretends to not notice how Caleb is acting to be nice but seems to have a glint of something in her eyes. He also smokes nonstop in the truck, which pisses off Peter more. Caleb drops them off at Donald's house and proceeds to tear up the front lawn in his beat up truck after he tells the two a few choice words he has for Donald.Inside, they meet Caleb and Peter's nice, and kind of sad, lonely dad. (Simmons) is a wonderful actor and he nails this Donald, mixing warmth, anger and pent up regret perfectly. He obviously loves his boys and he too seems smitten by Emma.
There is a rather funny subplot here, with Caleb and the group he works at construction sites with. J.T. (Vittorio Brahm) is always hanging around Caleb, as he seems to admire him quite a bit. Their conversations at times are a nice aside, as J.T. is not the brightest bulb, and Caleb, who is, has no time for this. It's very funny writing. There is also a misstep where Caleb takes dirty pictures with the prostitute he frequents and leaves them on his ex-girlfriend's front door. It's funny, it just seems out of place in this film.
Caleb and Emma keep bumping into each other around town, which is awkward for both, as it now apparent, they are intrigued by each other. This conflict in Caleb, as he loves Peter, eventually sets up one of the best scenes in the movie, where he confronts Emma in a grocery store for a whopper of an outburst. How can he be attracted to this woman, who his brother cares for so much? The scenes between (Scott) and Frost) are all very good in this thoughtful film. There are no easy answers here. When the family secret of what happened to this family is revealed, the way in which all three men behave becomes clearer. The plot may not be that original, but the writing is very sharp and I thoroughly enjoyed this small film. I also like how the writer/director (Lee Toland Krieger ) handled the relationship triangle, and where it ended. The soundtrack is great too.
watch the trailer: