A journey into the heart of a man's darkness
Rick, a collaboration between Lemony Snicket author Daniel Handler and veteran editor-turned-director Curtiss Clayton (Gus Van Sant's editor on To Die For), is alternately depressing and comic, following a widowed man with no soul, Rick, and his job-dominated life. While he focuses on pleasing Duke, a boss half his age (Aaron Stanford, X2), and being "The Man" at the office, his stunningly-beautiful daughter Eve (Agnes Bruckner, Blue Car) is growing up alone, whiling away her time having cybersex as "Vixxxen." When an old classmate (creepy Dylan Baker, Happiness) offers him a way to achieve his goals quickly (and illegally), Rick has to decide how low he can go.
The film's plot follows that of Verdi's opera, "Rigoletto," making small, subtle nods to the source material (the main character's name is Rick O'Lette. Get it?) While one need not have a subscription at the Met to follow the movie, if you know the opera, the film has an additional layer of subtext that's very entertaining. Like many of Shakespeare's best plays, "Rigoletto" is a story about lust and mistaken identity, and the price to pay for bad karma, and the movie follows that tale nearly to the letter.
Pullman is sufficiently disgusting in his role as the ultimate corporate lackey who takes out his frustration on anyone beneath him, but betrays his lack of self-confidence by screaming like a woman when surprised. While he's definitely the star of the show, he's outshined in terms of heinousness by Stanford, in a role that's at least a 90-degree change from his role as Pyro in X2. A scheming womanizer who wouldn't have been out of place in "In the Company of Men," he is the epitome of business scum, even attempting to seduce Eve, the only main character that's not entirely horrifying. Even she's not completely innocent of being manipulative, as her Internet indiscretions show.
There are some funny moments in the movie, but they are subtle and ironic notes that make you smile, not laugh. They are mere respites from the darkness, not the hallmarks of dark comedy. In the end, it's a depressing movie with some interesting performances, made with a true eye for style. Rick takes a bit of effort to watch, but should be seen as an experiment in dark adaptation.
The audio, presented in 5.1 Dolby Surround, is good, but not extremely active. There are some effects that stood out, and the music mix is good, so there's nothing to complain about. At the same time, it wasn't something to rave about.
In addition to a well-designed photo gallery and a set of PDF production notes (accessible only through a DVD-Rom drive), there are several promotional extras, including the movie's theatrical and video trailers, and eight Sundance trailers, including Scotland, PA, The Other Side of the Bed, Die Mommie Die!, Seeing Other People, The Tesseract, Tanner on Tanner, Soho Square and Wilbur. The two trailers for Rick hardly capture the feel of the movie, which is likely a good thing if you want to draw people into watching it.
The Bottom Line