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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?
by Betty Jo Tucker

Al Pacino turns in one of his best performances in Manglehorn. Although requiring patience to watch, this film definitely ends up being worth the effort, mostly because of Pacinoís intense portrayal of A. J. Manglehorn, an elderly, eccentric locksmith with a broken heart.             

A lonely man who pines away

for his lost love both night and day.

Thatís Manglehorn.


A sad man with a cat, his pet

who needs some help -- and from a vet.

Thatís Manglehorn.


A man not skilled in social ways,

he finds one friend but then he pays.

Thatís Manglehorn.


Can this man change his life and heart?

Will he agree to make a start?

See Manglehorn.

Heartbroken, Manglehorn tries to get by each day, but he canít forget Clara, the woman he loved and lost. He writes to her every day, but she never answers. (How I wish we knew more about Clara!)  And as the years have passed, heís become bitter and sarcastic. Sadly, even his relationship with his son (Chris Messina) has deteriorated, so they fail to communicate in any way except by arguing. Manglehornís only close relationship now involves Franny, his pet cat who needs intestinal surgery. However, he and his darling granddaughter (Skylar Gasper) enjoy each other during their weekly visits, and Manglehorn perks up a bit each Friday when he sees Dawn (Holly Hunter), a friendly teller at his bank. Dawn owns a dog, so they converse about their pets Ė and we canít help hoping these two lonely people will get together.

But then, on their first date, something so awkward happens that I almost yelled at the screen. Itís a scene I will never forget! Both Pacino and Hunter should win Oscar consideration for their terrific work in this one critical interaction. Kudos also to screenwriter Paul Logan (Be Comfortable, Creature) for the outrageously shocking dialogue he gave these veteran actors here.                

Although Hunter delivers the goods in this fine drama, itís Pacinoís movie. Heís ready for his Manglehorn close-ups, for sure. And there are a lot of them. Pacino makes us feel this characterís misery. We see it in his eyes, in his gloomy facial expression, in the way he stands and walks. And we want him to cheer up, for gosh sakes. But itís not easy to mend a broken heart, as the old saying goes.  

Director David Gordon Green (The Sitter) wisely chose a slow pace for this unusual character study. That helps us understand how deeply Manglehorn feels about his loss and how it impacted his life. Fortunately, he also made sure Manglehorn included a few light touches. For example, I rank the delightful musical duet inside Manglehornís bank as one of this yearís most treasured movie moments.

The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it. --- Nicholas Sparks

(Released by IFC Films and rated ďPG-13Ē on appeal for some sexual content and language, and for accident and surgery images.)

For more information about Manglehorn, go to the IMDb or  Rotten Tomatoes website.

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