Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: William H. Macy, Laura Dern, David Paymer, Meat Loaf Aday
Written by: Kendrew Lascelles, based on a novel by Arthur Miller
Directed by: Neal Slavin
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material, violence and some sexual content
Running Time: 107
Date: 09/09/2001
IMDB

Focus (2001)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Out to See

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In what seems like a deliberate throwback to Oscar-bait pictures of the 1940s like Gentleman's Agreement, William H. Macy plays a 1940s businessman who gets a pair of glasses and is suddenly mistaken for a Jew by the small-minded residents of his quiet little street. Laura Dern co-stars as a leggy blonde who Macy at first discriminates against, thinking she's Jewish. But after Macy loses his job she helps him find a new job and marries him. Meat Loaf Aday appears as Macy's hate-filled next-door neighbor and David Paymer plays the one Jewish resident on the block, a newspaper vendor who tries to do the right thing. As directed by first-timer Neal Slavin, and based on an old Arthur Miller novel, Focus climbs up on its soapbox a little too often, and shots of Paymer staring accusingly down the street at Macy (once during his wedding, for Pete's sake) become oppressive. If Macy wasn't so good at balancing insecurity, passivity and unchecked passion, the film would have faltered.

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