CWC D: Mike Cahill w/ Michael Douglas, Evan Rachel Wood. USA. 96 min. Sep 11, 7 pm Scotiabank 2; Sep 13, 2:15 pm Scotiabank 14. Rating: NNNN
Michael Douglas's screen persona has always contained two distinct veins: dashing hero and duplicitous cad, often within the same role. Few A-list leading men are as capable of appearing deceitful and dysfunctional while remaining charismatic. Even fewer are so willing.
No wonder the bearded, bipolar, suburban adventurer in King Of California fits him so perfectly. Freshly released from a mental institution, Charlie is a Xanax away from his burnout college prof, Grady Tripp, in Wonder Boys. Come to think of it, he's not so far from his Romancing The Stone treasure hunter either, a grizzled Don Quixote who takes his estranged 16-year-old daughter, Miranda (Wood), on a quest for 17th-century Spanish doubloons buried beneath the local CostCo.
It's the kind of tale Terry Gilliam would've knocked out of the park. Novelist and first-time filmmaker Cahill plays more heavily to the drama and humour than to the fantastique. This is essentially the story of a father's need to reconcile with his daughter, and a daughter's attempt to accept that her father is more of a child than she is.
Cahill displays a deft touch, never treading too close to sentimentality or absurdity. And the performances by Douglas and Wood, who share almost every scene, are sincere and ring just slightly truer than true.