Friday, April 2, 2010

Character, CASH, Comedy...and Bean

By Myriam Lechuga

In a thriller about a nice couple being held hostage by an unpredictable criminal the last thing one may expect to find is comedy. But comedy is what we do find in CASH.

Though there are scenes that are written and acted to be humorous, a great deal of the comedy is character driven. The funniest character of them all is Pyke as played by Sean Bean. The laughter comes from either Pyke’s reaction to the other characters or the other characters’ reaction to Pyke’s very precise, but slightly skewed, world view. After all, would your average criminal demand a “have a nice day” from someone they’ve almost beaten to a pulp? However, when we laugh at that scene, we are also a bit horrified at ourselves for doing so. This is very clever of writer/director Stephen Milburn Anderson to have the audience feel complicit in this dangerous game.

Some of the funniest scenes are between Pyke and the various everyday people he encounters on his way to finding and recovering the money he feels belongs to him and his brother. Of course the British accent, and the” ever so polite” way he introduces himself in people’s lives keeps us, as well as the actors on screen, slightly off balance. Kudos go to Mike Starr, Antony Thekkek, Glenn Plummer, Michael Mantell , and Josh Blue, for memorable scenes with Sean Bean as Pyke . Next time I need to get a loan from my neighborhood bank I’m taking Pyke with me!

Anderson takes a risk by making some of the humor politically incorrect. It works in this case because Pyke is clearly a “stranger in a strange land”, sartorially and in every other way. It works also because Sean Bean always makes his villains human and even charming. You know when you’re watching the film you should fear and hate Pyke, yet our sympathies are surprisingly swayed towards him, and against our hostage couple, all through the film. That is how an actor weaves his magic.

I am sure Sean Bean had a great deal of fun playing Pyke and his twin brother Reece. He creates a full human being (or two) on screen from his quirks and mannerisms, to his impeccable suits and ties, to his determined, yet mocking delivery of the dialog. The movie revolves around him, and even the hostage couple, Sam (Chris Hemsworth) and Leslie(Victoria Profeta) Phelan, are reacting to Pyke /Sean for most of the film rather than driving the movie action forward. More surprising then is the moment when performances and actions take an unexpected turn.

CASH’s hidden treasure is in its unexpected humor, clever characters, and memorable performances by supporting players and leading actors alike. Go and see CASH.

The film opens nationwide in the US on April 9.