October 6, 2009

Ghost Town (2008)

(In an early scene in Ghost Town, Ricky Gervais walks past a ghostly painting in his apartment.)

A bit of foreshadowing in Ghost Town, a comedy in where New York dentist Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) gains the ability to see and converse with ghosts following a near-death (or technically death) experience. Greg Kinnear shows up as a ghost who tries to convince Pincus to take care of some unfinished business involving his widow, an Egyptologist played by Téa Leoni. As is par for the course, the deeply antisocial Pincus finds himself falling for her. In this particular scene, through, he's still safe in his misanthropic shell, unaware of what is to follow.

Ghost Town
Seeing "Gervais" and "romance" in the same sentence may not sound particularly appetizing, but the three actors easily work their angles like the pros that they are. Director David Koepp largely resists the urge to jerk tears from the audience (when you have a film set in a New York that is filled with ghosts, each holding an unfulfilled wish, tear-jerking seems like the default direction), and manages to bring a touch of elegance to the proceedings. Aided by a muted yet distinct visual style, what could have been deeply maudlin becomes a minor gem of a film: not particularly original, but very successful on its own terms.

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