Something In The Air
A semi-autobiographical drama from director Olivier Assayas set in 1970s Paris
Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey star in a warm, emotionally potent drama about a doctor and his patient, who claims he's an extraterrestrial
"Who is it this time? Jesus Christ or Joan Of Arc?" moans Manhattan psychiatrist Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges), as his secretary announces the arrival of yet another wacko who needs his attention. Actually, it's an alien, or someone who thinks he is anyway - prot (rhymes with 'goat'), a shades-sporting docile fortysomething vagrant played by Kevin SPacey, who claims to be from the planet K-PAX. He can't be, can he?
Powell begins to wonder at the truth, as medication and therapy appear to have no effect on prot (he doesn't capitalise names), who claims he can travel on a beam of light and has come to compile a report on Earth - a BA-3 Planet, still in the early stages of its evolution. When not scribbling his notes in what may, or may not, be an extraterrestrial language, the alien-cum-nutjob spends his time curing the loonies about him.
Recalling both Awakenings and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, and even Bridges' earlier film Starman, K-PAX feels familiar, despite its sci-fi trappings, particularly in the opening half-hour. But there's also a real pathos here, a thoughtful examination of friendship and loss, stitched together slickly by Iain Softley (The Wings Of The Dove, Hackers) and held up by impressive performances across the board.
Kevin Spacey is moving, while Jeff Bridges is superb, allowing his co-star the space to explore the showier role, without ever being overwhelmed. It's a beautifully shot picture too, with Iain Softley and cinematographer John Mathieson finding wonder in the otherworldly desert vistas of Santa Rosa and the luminescent sheen of big cityscapes.
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