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Volume 91, Issue 33
Tuesday, October 28, 1997
No ordinary life after Trainspotting
By Jeremy Schneider
Angels, arrows, America. A girl and boy must fall in love but first they have to battle supernatural agents and the 'man.' Mix these elements together and what you have is no ordinary day in the life of anyone. A Life Less Ordinary finds Ewan McGregor and Carmen Diaz riding the Hollywood genre comet wherever it takes them.
When death rested itself in Renton, the anti-hero from Trainspotting, the viewing public demanded to know everything about the enigmatic Scotsman. Word spread that McGregor secured the sweetest gig for any actor when it was announced he would play the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first of the Star Wars prequels. In A Life Less Ordinary, Robert (McGregor) is an aspiring author who has been ousted from his day job by a cleaning robot. His girlfriend deserts him for something better and he is left alone.
Dwelling on no prospects, Robert kidnaps his boss' wealthy heiress (Diaz) and the two high-tail down the highway, showing no remorse. One must note this is from the creative team of director Danny Boyle and writer John Hodge, so a little divine intervention is to be expected.
Commissioned from purgatory, agents Jackson and O'Riley (Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo) are sent to earth to ensure that Robert and Celine fall in love, no matter what the cost.
Celine begins to realize her victim's position is not that bad. After all, there is a ransom to be had. By this time Robert's nerves have got the better of him and Celine becomes the brains of the operation.
The script was handled well by Diaz, but it is her cut-the-crap character which makes the perfect foil for McGregor's boozy but sensitive portrayal. Between Diaz and McGregor, the chemistry is strong. The form of the film is contemporary, visual and dream-oriented.
When you are at the age of 19 or 20, the world is overwhelming. Robert and Celine in their search for something better find it in each other. After the novels, after the angels arrange their fate and after the polluted joys, what is left is in a picturesque T.S. Eliot mindscape one criminal mind full of high sentence, almost at times the fool and a woman capable of discerning the true mode of proceeding, profiting by her best resources.
A Life Less Ordinary skews convention by mixing film genres action, dark comedy, crime and a bit of the supernatural to create a definitely Amercian twentysomething film. McGregor and Diaz are bonafide stars, capable of capturing the exuberance of the hope of youth in the face of societal diversity on film. The audience walks away with a sense that nothing but subjection to danger and exposure to temptation can show you what you are.
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