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With: Mike Binder, Janeane Garofalo, Alan Rickman, Sonya Walger, Juliet Stevenson, Allan Corduner, Owen Teale, Frank Harper, James Lance, Lee Oakes, Angela Pleasence, Tim Briggs, Caroline Holdaway
Written by: Mike Binder
Directed by: Mike Binder
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 91
Date: 11/11/2001

The Search for John Gissing (2001)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Office Chase

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Writer/director/actor Mike Binder has recently moved up a notch on the Hollywood list with his critical successes The Upside of Anger (2005) and Reign Over Me (2007). This 2001 comedy, shot in England, was obliterated in the wake of 9/11 and never really moved past a few film festival dates and press screenings, and so Binder has decided to distribute the film himself via Binder stars as Matthew Barnes, an American businessman transferred to London to help close a major deal. Janeane Garofalo plays his wisecracking wife Linda. Upon their arrival, nothing seems to go quite right; no one picks them up at the airport, their lodgings have fallen through, and they don't have any money. It turns out that the man Barnes will eventually replace, John Gissing (Alan Rickman), is deliberately sabotaging them to keep his job. Before long, however, Barnes and Gissing must team up to protect themselves from greater evils. Unlike Binder's more recent, mature works, The Search for John Gissing revels in the humor of the uncomfortable, setting its comic tone high and going for slapstick and crudities whenever possible. (It's interesting to note that some of Binder's other early films include comedies like Blankman and The Sex Monster). However, in the midst of all this running around Binder finds a lulling tone, thanks mainly to the quality of the performances. Rickman, in particular, is a master at remaining still in the face of chaos; he's a much-needed ingredient here. Binder occasionally uses an interesting split-screen technique that has the effect of keeping the energy up; he doesn't need to waste time cutting. The great Juliet Stevenson co-stars as a fellow employee and likewise lends priceless class and grace to the film.

DVD Details: The DVD comes with a commentary track by Binder and film editor Roger Nygard, deleted scenes, outtakes, a behind-the-scenes featurette and a photo gallery.

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