Release Date: December 1st, 2006 (IFC Center)
DVD Release Date: December 5th, 2006 by Magnolia Pictures.
The Cast: Anthony LaPaglia, Sebastian Stan, Hayden Panettiere, Isabella Rossellini, Viola Davis, Serena Reeder, Paul James.
Directed by Matt Tauber.
BASIC PREMISE: Leo Walters (LaPaglia), a Chicago architect, must deal with the demands of Tonya (Davis) to demolish an inner-city apartment complex while also dealing with his dysfunctional family.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Despite a fine cast, The Architect has such a messy plot, it feels as if it’s just a bunch of random scenes put together without a coherent narrative thread. None of the characters are developed enough for you to care about them, especially Leo Walters in the title role. His wife (Rossellini) wants to divorce him and his daughter (Panettiere) has dangerously toils with sex in the peak of her puberty. His son (Stan) copes with his homosexuality with his African-American friend (James). Meanwhile, Tanya, an African-American mother whose son died in an inner-city apartment complex which Leo designs, protects one of her daughters (Reeder) from gang violence while aggressively trying to convince Leo to tear down the old apartments to build newer, safer ones. Not a single actor gets his or her own moment to shine even though they’re all capable—especially Isabella Rossellini who barely gets any screen time as Leo’s wife. Co-writer/director Matt Tauber includes too much conflict with not enough time spent to fully develop any of the plot or characters, in this case, either feel convoluted or induce headaches or both. He doesn’t let any of the scenes breath. Moreover, much of the dialogue feels stilted and awkwardly laconic with poor transitions between scenes. A more focused script with tighter direction would have helped to make this story much more powerful rather than ultimately feel underwhelming and pointless, even during its running time of 81 minutes.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Convoluted, unfocused and stilted.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 5
IN A NUTSHELL: A fine cast, but with a convoluted, unfocused plot and stilted dialogue.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: TV
The "A" Menu