February 8, 2015 at 11:08 pm #177525
I was pretty upset with Dan Stevens for leaving Downton Abbey in 2012. He was never a standout (reflected in the Emmys nominating eight of his co-stars), but his character was so integral that it was impossible for him to depart organically. His final episode was aggravating and the season that followed was the show’s worst. Leaving the show that had given him international recognition in the middle of its run just seemed selfish.
I watched The Guest recently. He made the right choice.
Thirty pounds leaner, perfectly tanned instead of pasty and now sporting movie-star stubble, Stevens is unrecognizable in his role as David Collins, a soldier and the eponymous guest. He even sounds different with a flawless American accent. The Guest does not just take advantage of Stevens’s new muscular physique—it constructs an entire film around it. The first half is little more than an exploration of what a man can get away with by being sexy and cool; the second half takes the film from simmer to boil with gunfire and explosions as David becomes unhinged.
This progression makes the film a spiritual successor to 2011’s Drive. In that art-house thriller, Ryan Gosling played a nameless, silent type who did little more than exude charisma in the first half of the film and then stomped on heads in the second. The conspiracy at the center of the plot of The Guest is explained away with a throwaway line about a “medical experiment.” Director Adam Wingard (nominated at the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Editing of The Guest) knows that focusing on a career-redefining star turn makes for greater entertainment. He would not want to lessen Stevens’s shirtless screen time after all.
It makes him no less compelling, but Stevens does not display much range in The Guest. This is the type of “slap the stud” role that the Oscars seldom nominate and ought to more often. Consider Titanic, in which Kate Winslet was the more emotionally vulnerable lead and reaped a nomination, but it was the collected Leonardo DiCaprio who left the greater impression.February 8, 2015 at 11:23 pm #177527
This was a fun movie. A nice surprise. (SPOILER-ISH ALERT) Stevens was pretty good here, and he fit the tone just right; not too serious, not too “wink, wink” villainous.February 9, 2015 at 12:48 am #177528
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie! It’s too bad it didn’t get more
attention because it has so much going for it. Captivating lead
performance from Dan Stevens, slick 80’s horror undertone and a stellar
score/soundtrack! Fortunately it has cult-classic written all over it.February 9, 2015 at 10:52 pm #177529
What a breath of fresh air “The Guest” is. One of the great joys of
moviegoing is finding an unknown film that has the feel of a B-movie but
is absolutely A in quality. So smartly made and so well-written. Dan
Stevens is absolutely bad-ass in this — I would never have suspected
that Matthew Crawley had this in him! I can see the 80s horror
undertone, but what I really got was more of a late 70s John Carpenter
vibe, with the dark humor getting bleaker as the knot tightens. Hope
that “The Guest” has a long afterlife and has more people giving it a shot. It’s so worth it.February 10, 2015 at 12:01 pm #177530
I’m wondering if five of us have seen this. If so, I suspect it’ll be in the top ten (GD rankings)
This is a quiet gem.February 10, 2015 at 1:11 pm #177531
Wow what a ride! This is giving me Drive vibes if it was directed by John Carpenter. What an incredible movie. The script is as sharp as it gets, the direction is simple but stylish, the tone is something that feels like a tribute to the genre classics but with a fresh touch and the performances are very well-rounded. Stevens’s work is way more astonishing that it looks at first sight and it’s a performance that is so simple and effective that it becomes complex. Side-note: wasn’t he supposed to be puffy? When did he become this Ryan Gosling rehash?
I know I love a movie when as soon as it ends I feel the urge to rewatch it asap. That need was evident when I finished watching The Guest. Will definitely watch it again.