Aardvark (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)
Updated: Mar 11, 2020
Starring Zachary Quinto, Jenny Slate, Sheila Vand, Jon Hamm, Tonya Pinkins, Dale Soules, Marin Ireland, Peter Grosz, Jacinto Taras Riddick, Stephen Schnetzer, Noah Robbins, Brigid Ryan, James Joseph O’Neil, Michael Oberholtzer, Alex Kramer, Charlie Semine, Lauren Kroll, Brian Tweedy and Ashley Williams.
Screenplay by Brian Shoaf.
Directed by Brian Shoaf.
Distributed by Great Point Media. 89 minutes. Rated PG-13.
It’s hard to tell the difference between reality and hallucination in Brian Shoaf’s Aardvark.
The movie centers on the complicated relationship between two estranged brothers, Josh and Craig. Josh, played by Zachary Quinto, is a man who has lived his life with mental illness. His parents are deceased, he lives alone in a crammed, super messy apartment, and he is supported financially by his older, famous, television actor brother, Craig (played by Jon Hamm).
In spite of the financial support, Craig has not seen Josh in person for a long time. Josh has heard through the small-town grapevine that Craig is in town, which contributes to an increase in Josh’s mental health issues. He seeks out additional professional assistance from therapist, Emily (played by Jenny Slate).
Emily tries to make sense of Josh’s mental health needs and oddly finds herself the center of Craig’s attention when he shows up at her house/office late at night to check in on Josh’s mental health and then asks Emily out to dinner. And yeah, then the movie starts to get really weird as it crosses some uncomfortable patient / therapist / family / privacy boundaries.
Craig has guilt, Josh has isolation and hallucinations, and Emily has control and boundary issues. In all, it’s kind of a giant, uncomfortable mess, but has moments of subtlety showing the complexities of living life with severe mental illness where medication compliance can change the fabric of your day and the people that you meet.
The film itself felt stretched and should have chosen a central focus. At times it felt like the full focal point was on Josh, at times on Emily and rarely did they overlap in a meaningful way. I wish that more attention was spent on the brothers than on Emily’s awkwardness and different relationships. Although she played an important role in getting the brothers together, I wish the writers had written her in a different, more professional, focused way.
There is an out of the blue love interest for Josh – the lovely, quirky Hannah (played by Sheila Vand) who asks nothing of Josh but his friendship. They go for long walks and she is accepting of his quirks. Hannah tends to disappear as quickly as she arrives into his life adding to the question of her being real versus one of his many hallucinations.
Overall, Aardvark is slow, but thoughtful, particularly when Josh and Craig finally find themselves face to face and have the opportunity to relate to one another in person. It has some good parts, but it is not a movie that I would particularly recommend, nor am likely to watch again.
Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 13, 2018.
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