In preparation for Danny Boyle’s new film Trance, I’ve gone on a tiny Boyle rampage the past week. Boyle is one of my favourite filmmakers, so his films are regularly played in my household, but it has been a while since I’ve seen a couple of his older films. One these films, and the only one I hadn’t seen before, was A Life Less Ordinary, Danny’s first American effort starring Ewan McGregor, Cameron Diaz and Holly Hunter.
The film is a wacky road trip fantasy black romantic comedy. McGregor plays a cleaner who gets fired and replaced by a robot. Angered by this, he decides to kidnap the daughter (Diaz) of his former boss (played devilishly by Ian Holm). Whilst this is going on you have Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo playing a pair of cupid-esque angels trying to get McGregor and Diaz together. And that is only the tip of the crazy iceberg as this wonderful little film bounces through a dozen different genres.
If you familiar with Danny Boyle’s over the top and stylistic approach to filmmaking then you’ll instantly pick up this is a Boyle film. It is lathered with his techniques, from the kinetic editing to over powering British soundtrack. This is a Boyle film through and through. He is one of only a handful of current filmmakers that can make style and substance work in tandem. It is why he is so popular, people love the stories he tells and how he tells them.
A Life Less Ordinary also offers further proof that Danny Boyle seems to be the only filmmaker capable of getting a great performance from Ewan McGregor. Like with Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, McGregor proves he has the dramatic and comedic chops when the script and director push him. However, unlike his other Boyle films, he doesn’t steal the show. Holm is wonderful as the evil father and Holly Hunter is delightful as one half of the playful and bizarre cupids. Diaz though proves to be the shining light, at her best she is almost unmatched for comedic skills. She provides the biggest laughs and will give you the biggest smile, her cheeky and smartass performance is one of her best.
With a filmography featuring some bonafide classics, A Life Less Ordinary ends up being Danny Boyle’s most overlooked and underappreciated film. It is a shame because it is a rare black comedy that manages to hit all the right notes, ranging from laugh out loud hilarity to really touching romance.
4.0 out of 5.0