Jillian and I haven’t had the best luck over the last fortnight with our films.
I’ve quite enjoyed them admittedly but we both feel, I think, that we need to mix things up a little, after a few duds. This joint collaboration was always going to be fun but the rules were never set in stone, which means we have the luxury of working out what works best for us.
I’m also going to change my style of reviewing. I love Jill’s blog and I think somewhere along the line I started to mimic her style, or if not style, then the structure of her reviews. Hey, highest form of flattery, non?
I’m not a very good reviewer myself, but I love doing it. I’m going to try out a more opaque method this week, which is what I do outside of this series and with my mini-reviews.
I hope you’re all enjoying the reviews, anyway. I just hope that this film has broken the bad bad movie spell.
IMDB Synopsis: When a couple discovers that a brass teapot makes them money whenever they hurt themselves, they must come to terms with how far they are willing to go.
I didn’t want to over-think the selection of my next film so I scrolled gormlessly through Netflix until something jumped out. I chose this film because a) Juno Temple and b) what a nuts premise!
Juno Temple impressed me back in Atonement (2007) and has really, I feel, upped the ante in flicks such as Killer Joe (2011) and the more recent, Horns (2013). Thankfully her CV is full of great and quirky roles, and long may that continue.
In The Brass Teapot, Temple plays Alice, one half of a loving but fiscally precarious couple. Her husband, John (Argarano) is doing his best in an uninspiring telemarketing role while Alice tries to find work. Despite her $40K degree in Art History, Alice is struggling to find a job she aspires to, what with the economic climate the way it is. So she spends most of her days at home, chilling out maxing, relaxing all cool. Or, applying for jobs and waiting for John to come home.
The couple are solid, or so it appears, and they seem happy, though they seldom have food in the fridge or money to burn on nights out on the town. As their landlord reminds Alice one day, “Weren’t you voted ‘Most Likely to Succeed’?”.
Things start to look up however when one day the couple have a minor car accident. They’re fine but as they assess the damage outside an old antiques shop, Alice is inexplicably drawn inside. There she spots a beautiful brass teapot which she steals.
John is later fired from his job because he’s pretty crap at it. While he’s been gone, however, Alice has figured out that the teapot has something unique about it. When she burns herself on hair curlers, the tea pot fills with cash. Enough cash to lead her to do what any sane person would do in the same situation: beat the shit out of herself.
Once John has gotten over his initial skepticism, and the shock of coming home to a battered wife, the pair have a field day hurting themselves in imaginative and innovative ways while stockpiling the moolah. With a view to making a million bucks and then getting out of town, the couple are well aware that this could, and probably will, end badly.
But as with all good things, it’s easy to get carried away; and John and Alice decide to treat themselves to a few things they’ve been doing without. Alice’s family is a little suspicious of how the couple are living but nobody else questions them much, least of all the tax man. When they buy a big house and move in next door to the popular couple they knew from high school, everybody assumes that Alice has scored her dream job.
Meanwhile, thanks to John’s appearance on the Antiques Roadshow, several people now know the tea pot is in their possession, including Doctor Ling, who has been tailing the teapot across the world for the best part of his life.
John and Alice have also been acquainted with a pair of Jewish brothers, who claim their grandmother smuggled the tea pot out of a Nazi concentration camp at great personal risk. They first of all beat up John (which proves lucrative), then later return to rob the couple of all their material possessions, telling them to keep the pot as they only want to reap its offerings.
Doctor Ling tries to warn the couple of the very real danger they are exposing themselves to but predictably, they don’t want to listen. He tells them that the tea pot changes people but they swear they know their limitations. He stays close to them anyway, this is his life’s work after all.
Soon the tea pot starts to pay out less for the pain they cause themselves and each other, but Alice discovers that the tea pot is nothing if not flexible with the rules, and learns that emotional pain totally counts. This leads the couple to go to town on each other and then others, admitting painful truths and spilling secrets. Since they have to recoup all they lost when the brothers robbed them, they go as hard as they can. But at what cost?
When they figure out that other people’s physical pain could prove advantageous, you can imagine where that leads. Luckily, John has the sense to ask Doctor Ling for help before they commit a crime neither of them can take back. But Ling explains that they both have to agree pass the tea pot on. Can John break the hold the pot has on Alice and persuade her to give it away, before she goes too far?
Watch it and find out for yourself, lazy bones!
This film had so much potential. The lead characters are an interesting couple, played by fine actors, with great chemistry. The premise is bonkers but fun and the scenarios they find themselves in are funny too. But there’s nothing new here and there are no surprises.
It’s also pretty obvious where the ending is going in terms of the moral of the story (yawn). Yeah we get it, true love conquers all, you guys are good people. Yadda yadda.
That said, I still think Temple is the best thing in this film (crush, not gonna lie). It also features Alia Shawcat (Arrested Development’s Maeby) and Bobby Moynihan as Louise and Chuck, the couple’s best friends, who find themselves left behind when things start to get fancy. Will Alice and John be able to maintain their long-term friendships as well as their own relationship? Here’s hoping, eh?
All in all, the film was aiiight, but not brilliant. Jill, I am sorry.
3/5 (a little bit too meh for my taste)
Pop over to Jill’s shortly for her view.
NB: I forgot to mention that Jill and I have agreed to try some new genres, after finding ourselves in hokey horror hell for some time now. I find it hard to veer away from my favourite genre, so this is a great exercise in opening the mind. The Brass Teapot was classed as Sci-fi/Fantasy, so next week Jill will choose one in that category. Expect a proper mix up, including rom-com, world cinema, etc. Maybe even the odd Western now that I have learnt that they aren’t all set in the wild wild west.