Paul Dano plays Nick, a homeless shelter worker who reconnects with his estranged father, Jonathan (Robert De Niro) after 18 years.
Jonathan is delusional, an ex-con, a racist, homeless and his own worst enemy.
For all Nick’s life he has tried to figure out the man who walked out on his mother (Julianne Moore).
Sometimes questions are best left unanswered.
They do share one hereditary thing in common, they both love to write.
Jonathan calls himself one of the greatest storytellers in American history. And he will one day be discovered.
He has been working on a novel for his whole life called “The Button Man”.
Nick doesn’t believe the manuscript exists and it is just part of Jonathan’s delusions.
The movie opens with Robert De Niro claiming he is one of the world’s great storytellers.
That is a lot to live up to when watching this film. De Niro, one of the greatest actors of his generation, telling us this is just setting itself up for failure.
But I think this setup was also to show just how far a man can fall. And what giving back can do to strengthen the spirit.
Everytime De Niro speaks in the film you just wanna scream at the TV like a crazy person. His performance evokes that kind of emotion and you have to give him credit. But because both De Niro and Paul Dano are both such unlikeable characters it is really hard to endure the film and see if they finally connect. These guys are both a mess and it isn’t really pleasant.
I liked the simplicity of the film and how the movie reflects back on them both being tortured writers. I like the desperation and depression harbored within both of these guys. And it is an interesting question to what happens when as a homeless shelter worker you end up having to care for a relative you haven’t seen for 85% of your life.
Don’t get me wrong this is no where near a feel good movie. And it is very, very hard to watch.
3 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer