When you drink orange juice, do you love a bit of pulp in the liquid, even if that stuff gets stuck between your teeth or leads to a necessary wipe on the mouth? Nicolas Cage’s latest film Looking Glass oozes sleaze from the get go, and while some viewers may become disenchanted with this lurid noir, others will eagerly sink their teeth into another memorable Cage vehicle.
Still haunted by their daughter’s tragic death, Ray (Nicolas Cage) and Maggie (Robin Tunney) purchase a motel in Arizona, hoping for a new lease on life. Ray drinking a beer while driving is an indicator that he’s not the stablest protagonists to grace the screen, and Maggie isn’t too far behind on the dysfunction department. Tunney, a highly under utilized actress, proves to be an equal match for Cage, and their inevitable confrontation is charged with electricity.
Ray’s darker side is explored when he discovers a crawlspace which reveals a two-way mirror in one of the rooms. Instead of looking the other way, Ray does a deep dive into voyeurism and peeks into the sexual lives of others (one of the guests is an amiable, every day Joe who brings his lady friends into the aforementioned room).
But the mirror is just one of several mysteries that populate this hardboiled narrative. The frazzled motel owner (Bill Boldender) disappears without a trace from the sun-scorched town, leaving Ray and Maggie to handle any motel problems/questions all by their lonesome. The gas station owner (Barry Jay Minoff) across the street is friendly in a very unseemly manner, and several of his employees appear to be ready to give Ray the business. A murder also takes place (an event that wasn’t witnessed by Ray), and an all too nosy sheriff (Marc Blucas, delightfully chewing up the scenery) believes Ray may be up to a few criminal activities.
Directed by Tim Hunter, the movie’s sleaze factor is tempered by the filmmaker’s tongue-in-cheek approach to the material. One character’s memorable line (“that could have gone better”) is delivered to full (and humorous) effect in a pivotal sequence in the story, showing that Hunter doesn’t mind injecting a bit of cheesy humor into a violent moment.
Nicolas Cage devotees will also love the actor’s unhinged performance, and there’s a bar fight in the narrative which I simply can’t wait to see over and over again (the moment typifies Hunter and Cage’s love for instilling idiosyncratic behavior in violent situations).
It’s great to see a flannel wearing, bearded Cage do solid work in a deliciously slimy crime thriller, and hopefully he retems with Hunter (film wise he’s best known for the drama River’s Edge) and Tunney down the road.
An acquired taste that should be suited for pulp noir and Nicolas Cage fans, Looking Glass was a total winner for me. Others who like their OJ a bit cleaner and diluted should probably steer clear of the sleaze!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Looking Glass hits theaters, Digital HD and On Demand February 16.
***I also discuss Looking Glass on the latest episode of CinemAddicts. Take a listen below!!