Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: Neo Ned

Review: "Neo Ned" (2005)

Directed by: Van Fischer
Starring: Jeremy Renner and Gabrielle Union
Official movie website and trailer 

Synopsis: A Neo-Nazi meets a black woman who thinks she's Hitler. Romance blossoms, revenge may happen.

Reviewer: Tara
Status: Recommended

Watched it for Renner, stayed for the story.

I'm always hesitant to really pass judgment on movies when I can't actually figure out how I feel about them. This is one of a select few films that made me a little uncomfortable for one reason or another - but this one I ended up really liking after watching it a second time. I found out about this gem thanks to my friend Jo, who adores actor Jeremy Renner in all of his "Avengers" glory and beyond.

Jeremy Renner in "Neo Ned."
Acting Talent and Characterization
I'm not sure what it is about Renner that makes me believe he could just turn around and methodically kill someone, but that's kind of a thing for him. He pulls it off really well in just about every movie, including this one. Throughout the whole movie, I kept wondering when he'd snap.

Similarly, Gabrielle Union offers an unflinchingly believable performance. It took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that she's playing a (black) mental patient who considers herself the reincarnation of Hitler, but once I accepted it, I started to note the quirky comparability of the characters.

Neither of them make sense, individually or together, but they make sense to each other in a world otherwise meaningless to them.

Let's also not forget that Cary Elwes makes an appearance in this film as Dr. Magnuson.

So Why Is Ned Neo?
Ned hangs out with his dad in jail. Clearly, his father was the best example for him throughout his life and he wants to make a connection with his family.This is why Ned chose the Neo-Nazi lifestyle. It's shocking enough to be interesting; relatable enough to be emotionally confusing for the viewer.

The movie, of course, is actually about finding family - whether it's someone who will just be weird with you or actually tracking down your family, as Rachael wishes to do. Ned wants to help her accomplish all of this.

I really enjoyed the pace of this movie. On more than one occasions, the characters 'know the procedure' (i.e. when they get arrested or get medicated), so we get to observe a chase or outburst rather than shock, confusion, or an initial struggle. This is different than most films.

Because the subject matter is a bit controversial (and Ned wears a shirt with a swastika on it during the film), I doubt this movie will ever achieve the popularity it observes. I almost refused to watch it because I hadn't heard of it (awful reason, I know), but I'm glad I let Jo convince me to give it a try.

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