The Architect

Movies
BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE Davis has demolition in mind.
BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE Davis has demolition in mind.

Time Out says

Adapted from a play by Scotsman David Greig and relocated to Chicago (with NYC subbing for the Second City), this domestic soaper dilutes a socially incendiary, cosmically tinged question—what responsibility does an architect have to the people who inhabit his structures?—with benign, overly schematic earnestness. Leo (LaPaglia), the building designer in question, is a stereotypically neglectful, self-satisfied blowhard oblivious to his family’s unraveling. His wife (Rossellini as a frumpy version of Blue Velvet’s Dorothy Vallens) begins to act out semiviolently, while their daughter and son (Panettiere and Stan) experiment separately with risky sex. In a less contrived parallel story, Tonya (Davis), an activist pushing to demolish the decrepit housing project Leo built early in his career, struggles with rifts within her own family.

First-timer Matt Tauber works hard to tie up these various threads in a meaningful way, but the film’s multinarrative plotting has been done to death by now and he lacks the chops to give the characters depth or the story’s improbable coincidences emotional heft. The stage-bound dialogue and herky-jerky hi-def-video photography thus take center stage, and despite decent performances, the movie ends up smacking of squandered opportunities. (Opens Fri; IFC Center.)—Mark Holcomb

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