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The crocodile in a suit
on 2 May 2011
Damien Lewis and Jodhi May are two of the best -- and most underrated -- British actors you can find in the entertainment biz. And their talents are on glorious display in "Friends and Crocodiles," a slow study of British society's changes throughout the 1980s and 1990s, as well as of one orderly ambitious woman and an eccentric man.
Lizzy Thomas (May) is suddenly approached by Paul Reynolds (Lewis), a wealthy, whimsical real-estate emperor who wants her as his secretary. At first she's enthralled by his brilliant ideas, but soon she realizes that he enjoys chaos and mayhem -- and after a dangerous stunt at a party, she quits his employ.
Over the years, Lizzie and Paul encounter each other periodically -- his real-estate empire crumbles to a tiny farm and a hippie-style polyamorous family, while she marries and becomes a wealthy CEO at a massive company. But as Lizzie's company begins to implode, she begins to reexamine what she truly thinks of Paul.
The whole point of "Friends and Crocodiles" seems to be that inspired people need a little discipline, and disciplined people need a little inspiration. It's not a movie for everyone, since it's a rather slow-moving slice-of-life movie that basically charts the ups and downs of Lizzie and Paul's respective lives.
But what really makes it shine is May and Lewis -- he's excellent as a "rock star" wealthy man whose life slowly crumbles away, and May is brilliant as an everyday woman whose success throws her into a spiderweb of moral dilemmas. They have powerful chemistry, and Stephen Poliakoff carefully sketches how both of them become wiser and learn that they both need a little of the other.
And Poliakoff explores both sides of the coin, drifting from opulent mansions to dung-smeared farms, from marble mausoleums to midnight bonfires. And he takes an interesting look at how once-ridiculous ideas are now everyday realities -- ebook readers, Barnes&Noble-style coffee/bookstores, 3-D, and clean power from windmills.
"Friends and Crocodiles" is an intriguing movie, but what tips it over the top is the performances by Jodhi May and Damien Lewis. A solid if slow-moving story.