“Life of Crime (2013)” Review

I used to watch a lot more films. Now, there never seems to be time; it’s easier to squeeze in an episode of some TV show, and if I do have the luxury of an hour and a half I’m tempted to rewatch something I already know to be brilliant. If I want to see some films I’ve never seen before I’m going to have to make an effort to carve out the time.

So, while the nights are longer than the days (I’m not going to stare at a screen while it’s light outside) I’m setting myself the modest target of watching an average of 1 new (to me) film per week. I think that’s about 25 films before the vernal equinox. It’s probably going to be a pretty random mix – just new stuff to me. So feel free to recommend any esoteric gems… though I have to admit there are some BIG gaps in my cinematic education that I may try to plug here too.

I’ll record a few notes on this “Little Storping Film Festival” here just to keep myself on track…

First up: Life of Crime (2013)

Why did I watch it?

I was hunting through Elmore Leonard books on Kindle and ‘The Switch’ had a different cover to tie in with a movie adaptation. I enjoy reading Leonard and I keep an eye out for adaptations, occasionally they’re really good (e.g. Justified). Although there’s no shortage (there’s a new Get Shorty TV Series just out) this one had passed me by. I enjoyed the book and I wanted to see it.

Did it meet expectations?

For the most part, yes. The book’s most interesting character is Mickey, the suburban mom who is kidnapped. It would never have occurred to me to cast Jennifer Aniston but she is perfect for it. The film is a period drama, the book being contemporary in 1978 but the movie released in 2013 (unlike Tarantino’s contemporary adaptation of Rum Punch, Jackie Brown, which features 3 of the same characters and is both set & filmed in the 90s). As is often the case with period stuff, every shot is crammed with uniquely 70s fashion and decor but the sense of detachment this creates is appropriate to the journey Mickey takes – in the book she is described as standing outside herself examining her life.

There’s relatively little changed from the book (apart from the title, but that seems to happen quite a lot to Elmore Leonard). Although it’s faithful in tone and content, quite a lot is trimmed to fit the feature running time. There’s less of the opportunist Melanie (Isla Fisher) and some important scenes late in the novel, where Mickey tries to puzzle out what fate had been schemed for her and who was involved, have been drastically simplified. Richard the Nazi is considerably older for no particularly clear reason (he’s 35 in the book, played by a 58 year old, and yet a comment about his Dad being in the war is kept in).

You should watch it if…

  • You like Elmore Leonard (obviously). It’s a memorable book and it’s well filmed.
  • You like 1978 period drama set in Detroit.

You shouldn’t watch it if…

  • You’re looking for fast paced action.

Next up: Turks & Caicos (2014)

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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