Al Pacino is a regretful bachelor in David Gordon-Green’s latest indie flick Manglehorn. It’s a long way from Green’s action-comedy Pineapple Express, instead sharing the straight dramatic tone of his more recent Nicolas Cage film Joe.
Manglehorn Al Pacino

If you’re seeking an antidote to cinema’s recent wave of saccharine later-life romances from The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to Quartet, this is it. Green weighs in on life’s everyday frustrations, amplified by decades of cumulative regret and remorse.

Manglehorn (Pacino) exists in a state of self-imposed loneliness. Dejected and lost he’s consumed by his love for Clara, a woman who left him decades earlier. Still searching for her, and perhaps in an attempt at catharsis, Manglehorn writes her daily letters. Their deluge of feeling seems at odds with Manglehorn’s emotional distance from son Jacob (Chris Messina).

It’s poignant first-time feature-length writing from Paul Logan who demonstrates a gift for emotive monologues. Pacino delivers them with crippled emotion, tempering regret with efforts to be a good Grandpa and affection for his cat. Struggling to stay positive in spite of her own past mistakes, new friend Dawn (Holly Hunter) is Manglehorn’s biggest chance for fulfilment: a complex foil for his damaged state of mind. Green’s relaxed pacing is mottled with hit and miss surrealism – the sound work is particularly striking – but Manglehorn works as a deep and intense character study that scrutinises the value of holding on to the past.


VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★ 4/5


Certificate: 12A
Running time: 97 minutes
UK release date: 7 August 2015
Manglehorn is available to stream on demand now, at the same time as cinemas

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