Director: Daniel Schechter
Writer(s): Written by Daniel Schechter, based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
Genre: Comedy, Crime
Filming: Filming took place in Greenwich, Connecticut, starting on February 4th 2013 and lasting for 26 days.
Box Office: Made a total of $1.5m worldwide, including $265,452 in the US and $34,617 in the UK. Took $104,300 on its opening weekend in the US. Internationally, did well in Russia ($760,758 total).
Author Elmore Leonard’s characters Ordell Robbie and Louis Gara were made famous on the screen by Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. Stepping into the skin of Robbie and Gara for a very different adventure set fifteen years prior to the events of Jackie Brown, yasiin bey (perhaps better known to audiences as Mos Def) and John Hawkes star in Daniel Schechter’s new seventies caper comedy, Life of Crime.
Fresh out of prison, where they bonded over their similar convictions for grand theft auto, Ordell (bey, also at the Festival in Can a Song Save Your Life?) and Louis (Hawkes) have already decided to team up when they catch wind of Frank Dawson (Tim Robbins), a Detroit property developer and secret embezzler. Their plan is simple: they’ll kidnap Frank’s country-club wife, Mickey (Jennifer Aniston), and hold her for ransom. What the duo didn’t count on is that Frank’s affections have turned to his perky young mistress, Melanie (played by the always charming Isla Fisher), and he may not be in a rush to rescue his spouse. Eliciting Mickey’s insider knowledge, the crooks shift gears, frantically devising a new plan.
Also featuring great performances from Will Forte and Seana Kofoed, Life of Crime utilizes its all-star cast and impeccable art direction to build an entertaining and hilarious period piece. Evoking the spirit of some of the greatest film adaptations of Leonard’s novels — Get Shorty, Out of Sight and, of course, Jackie Brown — Schechter serves up a twisty comedic gem.
Tim Robbins … as Frank Dawson
Jennifer Aniston … as Mickey Dawson
Yasiin Bey … as Ordell Robbie
John Hawkes … as Louis Gara
Mark Boone Junior … as Richard Monk
Will Forte … as Louis Gara
Clea Lewis … as Tyra Taylor
US – August 29th 2014
UK – September 5th 2014
Australia – September 25th 2014
Brazil – February 26th 2015
Isla plays Melanie, the “perky young mistress” of Frank Dawson. Frank makes the mistake of running his financial plans past Melanie, who only has one thing on her mind. As the kidnapping and subsequent blackmail unravels, the loyalty-free, manipulative Melanie begins to interfere in subtle and unpredictable ways…
• This film is based on the novel ‘The Switch’ by Elmore Leonard. The characters in this book were made famous on screen in Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 movie Jackie Brown, which was based on Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch. Life Of Crime has been said to be serving as a ‘prequel’ of sorts to Jackie Brown.
• Bridget Fonda played the character of Melanie in Jackie Brown.
• Leonard Elmore died before he could see the completed film.
• Premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 14th 2013 (Isla did not attend).
• This film was originally titled ‘The Switch’; Jennifer Aniston had previously starred in another film with that title in 2010.
• Continuity error: Ordell finds Melanie sunbathing by the pool and she is obviously topless, the next moment he throws her in the pool and she has a bathing suit top on.
• Clea Lewis, who plays the supporting role of Tyra Taylor, co-starred with Isla in Confessions Of A Shopaholic as Miss Ptaszinski, one of the Shopaholic Anonymous group leaders/a fellow shopaholic.
• Isla is good friends with Jennifer Aniston.
– Isla Fisher: “I’m very excited to shoot that, it’s a wonderful character for me to play, I haven’t played anything like her before.” (speaking before filming started, in 2012)
– Isla Fisher: “I actually saw Dan Schechter’s movie Supporting Characters and really loved that, and then Jennifer Aniston is wonderful, so it was kind-of a no-brainer!”
– Daniel Schechter: “It’s really tough because you want to get your big names but we’ve all seen the films that have so many famous people but zero chemistry or who felt inappropriate for the role. So I think there is a angel hanging over my shoulder that I not only got people that I’m felt really appropriate for their parts but have great chemistry. I’ve never worked with a cast of this caliber but after a few minutes you realize they’re all actors and they really want to deliver and I think one of the reason I chose to adopt this book was because it had seven unbelievably great lead parts in this ensemble. Actors love good parts.”
– Jennifer Aniston: “Isla and I are really good friends and have been for a very, very long time. I think they would say we had a lot of fun together. We were all really excited to work together and that was clear from the beginning, from the first rehearsals. Our leader, Dan, starts at the top with his enthusiasm and his love of all of the characters.”
– Frank: “I don’t wanna play anymore.”
– Melanie: “Meanie. Ok, what do you wanna do? You wanna f**k?”
– Melanie: “What’s f**cked up here – besides the obvious – is here you are, filing for divorce, and then this happens – not wanting to be married but gosh, not wanting anything awful to happen to her either.”
– Frank: “I mean, they might be bluffing…”
– Melanie: “Although, let’s put ourselves in their place – where would you be if she were dead?”
– Frank: “Where would I be if she were dead?”
– Melanie: “Where were you be if she were dead?”
– Frank: “… where would I be?”
– Melanie: “Not you, sweetie, I mean where would they be if she were dead.”
– Frank: “You mean if I were them?”
– Melanie: “Yeah, where would you be if she were dead?”
– Melanie: “I used to be a receptionist, for this PR guy in LA; the guy was a real asshole but actually I made a lot of interesting friends so it was a good experience, overall I mean.”
[on the phone to the kidnappers]
– Melanie: “Hello?”
– Ordell: “Yeah, put the man on!”
– Melanie: “I can’t very well put him on if he’s not here can I sport?”
– Ordell: “Who this? This Melanie with the big titties?”
– Melanie: “Well yes it is, and who am I speaking to?”
– Melanie: “Do you mind? That’s my bag.”
– Ordell: “No I don’t actually.”
– Melanie: “Alright, well, you can take my money, my coppertone and kleeneex, but leave my driver’s license. That took me months to get.”
– Ordell: “Melanie. Is he upstairs, or did he leave the island?”
– Melanie: “Oh.”
– Ordell: “Yeah – ‘oh’.”
– Melanie: “Look, I’m willing to co-operate with you, cause I like you, I feel bad for you – ”
– Ordell: “You do?”
– Melanie: “- and I don’t wanna end up in the f**king ocean again.”
– Ordell: “Co-operate how?”
– Melanie: “What about if you … you disappeared for a hundred grand?”
– Orderll: “A hundred grand?”
– Melanie: “A hundred thousand. I think that’s a good choice for you right now.”
– Ordell: “This is the good news?”
– Melanie: “Well the bad isn’t exactly bad and the good isn’t exactly sensational, but what it does do, is it gets things back to normal.”
– Melanie: “I mean, you’re a hunk, but you are a piss-poor extortionist if you don’t mind me saying. Let’s be honest, this could’ve been set-up a whole lot better.”
• The Guardian: “Isla Fisher, who hasn’t had a part to really chow down on since her friendly nympho in The Wedding Crashers, makes Melanie even scattier, even more lethally confident, than the book suggests.”
• Sound On Sight: “The real stars are Isla Fisher as the scheming and avaricious Melanie, who shrewdly pushes Frank not to follow the criminals’ instructions; and Mark Boone Jr. as an imbecilic Aryan brotherhood accomplice, in probably his biggest on-screen part to date. (You may remember him best as the corrupt cop Flass in Batman Begins.)”
• LA Times: “”Crime” also features an ensemble (top-lined by Jennifer Aniston) of seven actors who understand just how to pull off a disreputable character comedy delicately balanced between mayhem and humor. Ordell and Louis, who are nothing if not thorough, have also discovered that Frank has a mistress in the Bahamas named Melanie (the always amusing Isla Fisher) he visits every chance he gets.”
• The Wrap: “It’s a joy to watch several of the other characters also gradually defy archetype. Writer-director Daniel Schechter (“Supporting Characters”) skillfully interweaves their deepening psychologies with the unfolding abduction caper, with the kidnapping crisis revealing everyone’s true colors. Like her rival, Melanie the Mistress turns out to be much cleverer than her skimpy outfits (and her attraction to blustering, bullish Frank) first suggest.”
• Time Out: “But this one belongs to the women: As a gold-digging mistress, Isla Fisher does half-smart expertly, while Jennifer Aniston demonstrates her underrated timing as a wealthy kidnapping victim turned confidante. Nothing about Life of Crime is going to linger in memory, save the unassuming way Leonard devoted himself to character and story mechanics.”
• Variety: “Robbins and Boone are perfect as two very different kinds of sleazeballs, and Fisher amusingly underplays a highly pragmatic, not-so-dumb bimbo whose loyalties are as flexible as her repertoire of sexual positions.”
• Wall Street Journal: “There are two wild cards in this nutty deck: […] The other card is Melanie (Isla Fisher), a mercenary tart whom the blinkered Frank plans to marry and who almost out-thinks everyone. Ms. Fisher is just right, as are the perpetrators…”
• SF Gate: “”Life of Crime” is well made and acted, especially by Hawkes and Fisher, if it’s not exactly gripping or noir-ish. Fisher – as versatile, funny and smart as any actress of her generation – puts a patina of ripe tomato over a layer of manipulative gold digger/survivor with a rock-hard femme fatale center.”
• Blu-ray.com: “The supporting cast is largely flawless, with Fisher especially amusing as the machinating Melanie. Life of Crime ultimately boils down to a somewhat predictable punchline that plays on Leonard’s original title, “The Switch.” That may be a cheap out for what is a mostly invigorating little character study wrapped inside a traditional caper gone wrong scenario, but it ultimately doesn’t completely deflate this often droll soufflé. ”
Life Of Crime is an average indie film that can be a little slow and bland, however, Isla’s presence lifts the film and makes it well worth watching. She shows a new side to her talents playing Melanie, bringing a real zest to the film and depth in her performance despite the limited screen time. Isla plays Melanie with a clever mixture of overt innocence and subtle smartness that makes her deceitful ways a delight to watch. Isla has received some of her best critical reviews for a while for this performance (see above, plus others calling her “ferocious“, “sparky“, and that she “excels“. Make sure you see this (even if you do just skip to Isla’s scenes!)…
Isla did not do any promotion for this film.
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