Have you ever been in a real-life situation where your mind switched to “movie mode” and completed that situation for you in the way a film you’ve watched would have played out…complete with music and all? Watching the Detectives (2007) has taken that idea and worked it quite well.
Neil is a fanatical film noir nerd who runs an awesome little store, Gumshoe Video (He’d be offended if you asked him for the latest blockbuster). Awesome, because it is has such a great vibe. The vibe you don’t get from the big franchise stores. How I wish those stores still existed…but I digress. He is so passionate about his store that he even dresses up for promotions he runs…he’s a cowboy when he has a 2 for 1 Western promotion, in full camouflage when War promotions are on and so forth. Neil also lives his favourite scenes…he’ll re-enact them with an unsuspecting customer or friend (and wonder why they don’t respond as the character in the film would have done). Oh, and he has the coolest “detective” office where he makes a point of showing off his shadow across the frosted glass when he can. I won’t even mention the awesome “noir” advert for his store.
Enter Violet. Literally. She walks into his store and throws Neil‘s life out of sync. She has no television (well, technically she does, but it has fish swimming around in it) and claims she suffers from a phobia of being bored (which I see is actually called thaasophobia). Without spoiling the fun for those who haven’t seen Watching the Detectives, Violet throws Neil out of his comfort zone, although, being such a film nerd, he really shouldn’t be so gullible. Named after the song by Elvis Costello*, Neil, just like the subject of the song, would rather watch detective shows on television than spend time with Violet (to an extent).
While this isn’t a “wow” film, it is fun and I thoroughly enjoy the way it is presented. Neil and the two friends who help him run the store are certainly believable – I’m sure such a store could well exist. What’s really well done is the way certain “everyday” scenes are accompanied by stereotypical genre music thus given so much more impact e.g. music that would typically be heard during say, a Western duel would be slotted in for a high tension scene involving Neil.
But brace yourself. Are you sitting down? I’m going to tell you that…wait for it…….Cillian Murphy stars as the “romantic” lead in this one. Yes. That’s correct. And he’s great (as usual). The only reason I tracked down Watching the Detectives is because I just had to see him in a romantic lead role and I enjoyed him taking on something different. Although, to be perfectly honest, I think he’s still a little serious here and wouldn’t be classified as the typical romantic guy. It does, however, show that he can so easily transform from Thomas Shelby (Peaky Blinders), Robert Capa (Sunshine) or Damien O’Donovan (The Wind that Shakes the Barley) to a less intense character. Don’t get me wrong, I just love watching him in those serious roles. He is brilliant at them (and you should really watch the aforementioned films and series – Peaky Blinders is something else…wow).
Lucy Liu fits the free-spirited, fun loving, femme-fatale role very well and is a perfect balance for Neil‘s character. They complement each other and are a believable couple…making for a sweet little movie that I find is quite original.
Jason Sudeikis and Michael Panes star as Neil‘s friends while Heather Burns is ex-girlfriend Denise.
*According to IMDB the title of the film is based on this song.