Sunday, March 23, 2014

HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT (1980) - James Caan

Caan stars and fills the director's chair his first and only time in a ripped from the headlines thriller about a man who loses his family to the Witness Relocation Program when someone puts a hit out on him. As with many actor-turned-director efforts, the performances are solid across the board, but the direction/pacing/script leave something to be desired. Caan, Danny Aiello, Joe Grifasi and Barbara Rae as Caan's estranged wife all create credible, lived-in roles. The mafia-related parts are real world believable, not hyperbolic in any way. Caan obviously applied some lessons learned from Coppola to this film. There are many nice blue-collar Buffalo touches. I was waiting for Vincent Gallo to hobble through the frame at any moment, clutching his bladder and looking for a place to drop trou. But the story lacked a dynamic engine other than the slow creaking wheels of justice Caan's everyman hero finds himself up against. The ways in which he goes about fighting the system often seemed clumsy and harebrained (though probably true to life). I kept wanting to reach through the screen and shake Caan's character by the collar and say: "I know you want to see your two adorable toddlers again, but you do realize that because of this fuss you're making you're putting them in more danger?"

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