Martin Donovan is an actor you probably recognize. He has been in over 70 movies and TV shows spanning back to the early 80s. Some of his best known roles are in Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia, The Haunting in Connecticut, the TV series Boss with Kelsey Grammer and the recent Silent Hill: Revelation. Now Donovan is branching out with the film Collaborator, which he wrote, directed and stars in.
Robert Longfellow (Donovan) is a one time successful playwright whose latest work bombed and whose marriage is failing. To get away and rethink his future, he travels back to Los Angeles to stay with his mother (Katherine Helmond) and regroup. His childhood neighbour Gus (David Morse) invites Robert in for a drink to catch up, but Robert soon finds the house surrounded by police and Gus holding him at gunpoint. To try and befriend Gus and diffuse the situation, Robert convinces Gus to practice improvisational dialogue exercises with him, but the exchanges soon get personal and the two are soon confronting each other with brutal truths that will change them forever.
I was really intrigued by the story of Collaborator, but what started off as an interesting premise soon became what I can only imagine Donovan perceived as dark humor. The problem was I couldn’t tell when the film wanted to be serious and when it was attempting humor. I think the film could have worked really well as a more serious thriller and character study, but instead it was saddled with a crawling pace despite its short running time. It felt almost as if Donovan was trying too hard to be one type of film and in the process made a film that feels like it doesn’t know what type of film it actually is. The performances are good from both actors and Donovan proves to be a very capable director, but I think the film really fell apart in the writing stage and that is too bad. Collaborator still makes me curious as to what Donovan will do next, but I hope he goes in a different direction if he is still writing it himself.
Available March 5, 2013 on DVD.