Nicolas Cage stars in Paul Schrader’s troubled thriller Dying of the Light, a film that, according to the writer-director, was taken away from him. He has therefore disowned this cut.
Schrader, Refn and Cage with mood swings sounds like a fitting mixture for something great, but great as it sounds on paper, on small print you get a very different picture. Schrader, as well as his DP Gabriel Kosuth, has disowned this cut that’s getting released in cinemas, as well as VOD (Video on Demand) simultaneously, which isn’t always the best of signs. Dying of the Light simply isn’t the film that it should’ve been, and that’s a real shame.
There are very brief glimpses of something interesting in the back of all this and there are snippets that show why it’s possible that Nicolas Cage would find this role interesting or challenging – for example, the illness and the lapses in concentration that he has to convey, and there’s a sequence where he has to impersonate a Romanian doctor with a fake beard, moustache, glasses and accent. So Cage has things to do, which he hasn’t always had in some of his recent films, like Tokarev.
But the result on screen is a very weird cut, and you can clearly see why Schrader wouldn’t want to have his name attached to it. It’s dreary, lumpy, boring, plodding and very banal. It seems like it’s trying to compare itself to TV’s Homeland, plus there’s a bit of Taken in it as well with trying also to be like the old-school revenge movie, yet it absolutely lacks the edge and the punch either of those two.
I don’t know if there’s a brilliant alternate cut by Paul Schrader out there but on the basis of this, as well as last year’s abomination by Schrader, The Canyons, I don’t have huge expectations riding on it. The end result that has come out at cinemas and on VOD is a massive clunker, which is a bit frustrating because with Michael Keaton receiving his big comeback in the recent Birdman, I want Nicolas Cage to do just that. He has had moments of that the last few years with Bad Lieutenant, Kick-Ass and last year’s Joe, but it is very touch-and-go with him nowadays and that is a shame.
Dying of the Light isn’t quite as ghastly as The Canyons, but it is rubbish.
Written by Ryan Pollard
Directed by: Paul Schrader
Written by: Paul Schrader
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Anton Yelchin, Irène Jacob
Country: USA / IMDB
Dying of the Light is released on DVD March 2nd.