I had 2014’s Middle Man suggested to me; I watched it and was floored by it, then found that the end-of-December madness descended upon me like vampires in an Alaskan town (c’mon, I live in Rochester). So this one should have been covered a few weeks ago, but wasn’t because… well, Christmas with work and children is a bit like a hyperactive bomb that causes you to go into survival mode and not think clearly. Without further adieu, here’s Middle Man.
I can understand why this film has been playing circuits, and why it’s been nominated for awards – it’s great. Director Charlie Francis knew when to focus, when to pan out, when to zoom, and which angle to use; he subtly changed my focus without having to beat me over the head. I felt like I was actually watching a person as opposed to ART (please read that with a breathless tone, an unnecessary “h,” and a sweeping cigarette hand motion whilst frowning), a feeling sorely missing in most cinema. Writer Katie White crafted a story that was both honest and real; extra points for exploring the challenges of a hearing-impaired partner, from which many writers and filmmakers still shy away. Actors Tommy Brennan, Joe Cassidy and John Cooke all put motions and facial expressions that made their time onscreen feel lived-in, from huffing to eye rubbing to slight looks of panic and terror. Combined, I felt like this team let me take a peek inside of an aspect of life; it felt like I was watching real people, not an awards pull. And when you can completely break my heart in one sentence at the end, it shows that I’m attached to your characters. Well-done.