Eye For Film >> Movies >> How To Win Enemies (2014) Film Review
How To Win Enemies
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Have you ever been on a date that just felt too good to be true? Lucas (Martin Slipak) is a sweet, good looking young lawyer who probably doesn't have much trouble getting female attention, but when he meets Barbara (Ines Palombo), he's overwhelmed. Not only does she forgive him for being late but she's funny, charming, and shares his love of crime fiction. She even has his favourite book - Patricia Highsmith's The American Friend - in her handbag. So they go back to his place, and she makes him coffee, and she climbs on top of him. And the next morning, when the effects of the sleeping pill have worn off, he finds that the 50 grand he was about to use for a downpayment on a new home has disappeared.
In this situation, most people would bring in the police. Lucas doesn't. Perhaps it's because his big brother Max (Javier Drolas) can help him out with the cash. Perhaps it's because he really fell for Barbara and doesn't want to believe she's as bad as all that. Or perhaps it's because he wants the chance to solve the situation himself. Lucas likes fixing things, whether it's his clients' legal problems or a broken office printer. He's sure there's more to this situation than meets the eye, and he's determined to figure it out.
It's difficult to play paranoia without depressing the audience, but Slipak gives Lucas a vitality and natural effervescence that keep us with him even as he expresses his suspicions about the people around him. Somebody marked him, he's sure - it was all too perfectly done. We watch him as he searches for leads. He hasn't really thought about the danger he could be in if he starts confronting criminals by himself. Lichtmann gives us a bright, sunlit world where the shadows of noir seem far away - right up until we are immersed in them.
It's pleasing to see a film in this genre which manages to remain light, witty and upbeat for most of is running time, but unfortunately the later scenes that make this possible also represent a serious weakness. Given the cleverness of the earlier plotting, the ending is just too flat and straightforward. Lucas, a compelling hero when in deep water, winds up in the shallow end. It's a disappointment, but the film is well directed, attractively shot, and entertaining most of way through, so still worth watching. As a family drama it benefits from great chemistry and it's sure to find an audience.Reviewed on: 12 Feb 2016