The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

The five year old stole the show

with 26 comments

I assume that Bruce Willis still is regarded as the greater star between him and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

That must be the reason why it was JGL who had to spend three hours every morning in the make-up to look like a younger version of the older actor, instead of the other way round. Or perhaps he just had a better negotiator as the contracts were written for Looper.

Whatever the reason was, I’m not sure it was a wise choice. At least not if you want to grab the attention of the young, female audience.

I could hear small sounds of discontent coming from my 18 year old daughter sitting next to me in the theatre.

“He looks weird! He’s not cute anymore. What have they done to him?”

However if JGL’s looks let her down, there was another young man in this movie who charmed my daughter. He charmed her so well that her first, spontaneous comment as we left the cinema led:

“Mum, I want to have a child!”

The one to put such ideas into her head was the five year old Pierce Gagnon. And I couldn’t blame her. His unspeakably cute, and steals every scene he’s in.

Putting it together
But then we let go of discussing the male actors and went on with the mandatory “putting the pieces together” talk that inevitably follows when you’ve watched a time-travel movie. There are timelines to be sorted, interpretations to be compared and in the end you put together a story that makes sense, at least on a basic level.

It’s all nice and part of what makes the genre so fun, but only to a certain extent. You need to tread careful not to overdo it.

There will inevitably be inconsistencies and plot holes – it comes with the genre. If finding those is your first priority, you will. But it will inevitably take away a bit of your enjoyment of the film.

The choice is yours. What do you like most? Feeling smug and superior towards the screenwriter or enjoying a fun, relaxing ride?

I know what I go for, as long as the film isn’t too complicated.

In the case of Primer, I fell out of the wagon during the ride and left the theatre having absolutely no idea of what happened in the film. As I was told afterwards you needed to bring a spreadsheet to the viewing if you wanted to have a chance to wrap your head around what was happening.

Looper is a different creature. It requires you to stay alert, but never crosses the line to obscurity. After talking it over, my daughter and I agreed on that we’d probably need to watch it one more time to figure it all out, and both of us would be happy to do so.

A future classic?
I don’t know yet where to place Looper in the history of time-travel movies. Will we remember this film in ten years time? Will we develop a relationship with it, referring to it over and over again like we refer to 12 Monkeys? Or was it just a solid entertaining one-night stand of a science fiction thriller – nice as long as it lasted, but ultimately forgettable?

I’m leaning towards the latter, that it’s a temporary fling. But I wouldn’t be sad if I turned out to be wrong.

Looper (Rian Johnson, US 2012) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

October 1, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Looper

26 Responses

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  1. Solid review! I just posted my review of Looper myself. I was really impressed with the film. It wasn’t perfect but Johnson gave me one of the best times I’ve had at the theater all year.


    October 1, 2012 at 1:39 am

    • Thanks! Well it’s a hard movie to write about. I tried to talk about anything but the plot since I didn’t want to spoil it. People who insist on hearing about the plot can get that elsewhere.


      October 1, 2012 at 7:42 am

  2. Ouch, I just realised what would be on my “How to make me not want to watch your movie”-list. You mentioning the kid turned me (almost) completely off for this one 😉


    October 1, 2012 at 10:09 am

    • Really? All that hatred for child actors? I mean, like you I really don’t like bad ones and I always hold my breath when it turns out there will be a kid in the movie. But in this case there’s no need for fear. He’s lovely.


      October 1, 2012 at 10:42 pm

  3. I really don’t have issues with the time travel stuff in Looper. Sure I’d like to have seen it being expanded or maybe used differently but in the end it is what it is.

    My issues with the film is the same as I tend to have with a lot of newer films. I don’t seem to care for the characters very much and to really disagree with you I think the kid in the film was quite awful. It signaled miles away what he was making much of the plot very obvious.

    I’m glad I saw it because now I can listen to /Film nagging on it directly instead of halting my podcast listening until the DVD is released. Also a fair warning, I do my fair share of rock throwing in this weeks upcoming Looper LAMBcast. However, I was more or less alone with that POV and most of the discussion on it was about other things so its still worth checking out.

    Joel Burman (@joelburman)

    October 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    • Well, obviously we have different views on this one, both about the child actor and about the movie as a whole. I’m a little hesitating to listen to podcasts about it to be honest. I’ve really hated all the nitpicking about for instance The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus. When you’ve enjoyed a movie a lot, it’s not particularly fun listening to people who hate it and go out of their way to prove their point.


      October 1, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      • Well thats not the case with the LAMBcast. I was the only one being negative about and when the rest of the panel don’t pitch in it doesn’t become like those /Film tests… which I can enjoy quite much when I agree about the opinion about the film.

        Joel Burman (@joelburman)

        October 2, 2012 at 12:12 am

        • I guess I might give it a chance then. Listening to a bunch of people hating on something you like isn’t all that enjoyable.


          October 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm

  4. Solid review. Find myself agreeing with you when you say that there’s a point where you have to stop dissecting the film and just enjoy it for what it was.

    For me Looper’s going to stay with me for a while. It’s just been such a long time since there’s been a thought provoking sci-fi film, which involves a bit of time travel. A film that leaves you with questions which don’t have straight up answers.

    That little 5 year old? Yes, he totally stole the show.


    October 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    • Thanks! Yes, I really loved it and I bet it’s going to end up on either my top 10 or top 20 list of the year. The fact that this is my favorite genre probably helped a bit.


      October 1, 2012 at 10:53 pm

  5. Nice post. Really looking forward to seeing this one. I cannot wait! (It’s supposedly opening over here next Friday).


    October 2, 2012 at 7:48 am

  6. Hhmmm! The first review I’ve read that shed some doubt Jessica. I appreciate your honesty here. I’ll probably go into this with some trepidation now and that’s always a bad thing. Cheers.

    Mark Walker

    October 2, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    • “Not always a bad thing” that should have said 😉

      Mark Walker

      October 2, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    • Doubt? Hm. I hope I’m not giving the wrong impression here. I genuinely loved it!


      October 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      • Your not giving the wrong impression at all Jessica. It’s probably me that’s doing that. You’re review was positive I just admired your honesty at the end.

        Mark Walker

        October 2, 2012 at 7:13 pm

  7. Great observation about why JGL was the one to endure makeup instead of Brice Willis. Even though Willis and JGL look nothing alike, I would’ve preferred we take a leap of faith and accept the premise without makeup. With facial expressions, vocal inflections and gestures, JGL carefully conveys a younger version of Willis with acting alone. The makeup was distracting.

    Love the film and loved your review!

    Mark Hobin

    October 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    • Ugh! Brice Willis is Bruce’s stand-in. LOL

      Mark Hobin

      October 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    • Thank you! And yes, actually I think the film would have worked just as well without the make-up trick. If we’re willing to accept the idea of time-traveeling, I think we can accept the idea that someone has his appearance change a bit over the years. Actually it happens in real life. There are people who change so much in 30 years that it’s hard to see it’s the same person when you look at pictures.


      October 2, 2012 at 6:46 pm

      • Plus we already know what Bruce Willis looked like as a young man when he was on Moonlighting in 1985.

        Mark Hobin

        October 2, 2012 at 7:35 pm

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  9. -> That’s your chart for primer.

    Just seen looper and it was entertaining but I expected more.

    To me, the movie started badly. They send people back in time to be shot and their bodies disposed? That makes no sense.

    And I was hoping to see some bonding in this movie. Maybe between the old and new killer, that would make a good movie. Or between him and the woman or between him and the child. But no, nothing that can get in the way of the action. And that just makes the persons dislikeable and made me care little if any of them lived or died.


    November 25, 2012 at 2:24 am

    • I agree that it’s a movie that is smart rather than heartbreaking, but I still enjoyed it a lot. I’d definitely like to rewatch it when it becomes available on DVD. There were a couple of puzzle pieces that I didn’t quite figure out where to put.


      November 25, 2012 at 9:59 pm

  10. […] 6. Looper Mind bending science fiction movies set in an alternative universe or the near future is my favourite genre. Looper didn’t disappoint me.  Out of all films from 2012, this is the one that I most of all would like to re-watch and see if I can figure out all the timeline twists the second time around. […]

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