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Brandon Judell

The Caller: You Don't Necessarily Have to Hang Up


The Caller
Director and writers : Richard Ledes and Alain Didier Weill
Cast : Frank Langella, Elliot Gould, Laura Harring, Anabelle Sosa, Gregory Ellis

Frank Langella

Very few actors have the ability to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear and almost have you completely forget you're interacting with pork product. Frank Langella is one of these.

Throughout Richard Ledes' The Caller, a little film optimistically billed as a "psychological thriller," Langella's grace and gravity keep you convinced that at any moment this at-times disjointed piece of celluloid will become worthy of its star. That never happens.

Opening in 1944, we see two Jewish boys running through the fields of France as Nazi aircraft mow down several of their relatives.

Jump ahead to the present. Jimmy Stevens (Langella), a corporate executive at an international energy corporation that exploits third-world countries, has just betrayed his company. To the powers that be, along with videos of the violent crimes his bosses have instigated, he's emailed statistics proving their financial shenanigans, no doubt costing the outfit billions.

Immediately, Stevens' betrayal has been traced to his computer, as he knew it would be. The punishment: he's to be rubbed out. Stevens was aware of this consequence also.

So what does a very rich executive with very little time left on his hands do? Over a cell phone, utilizing a voice disguiser, he hires Frank Turlotte (Elliott Gould), a private eye, to follow him.

Yes, Stevens hires Turlotte to pursue Stevens, but why? And what happened to the two little French boys? And how are they related to the gents circling each other among the streets of Manhattan?

What you wind up with here is a thriller without thrills, but there is indeed a nuanced joy watching Langella and Gould, who is also quite fine, interact.

If you find yourself needing to experience this small pleasure on the big screen, the film opens in New York City on Feb. 13. If you find you can wait a bit, the DVD hits Netflix on April 7.

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