I’m glad I didn’t expect Paul Dano to be anyone but Paul Dano, because he didn’t do much else. Think Eli from There Will Be Blood and replace spiritual piety with monetary destitution and a little more hair. Wouldn't it be cool to seem him in a role where he's excited about something great that happens to him.
Yeah, I didn't think so either.
Anyway, The plot skips past itself so fast, you're left wondering how you got into the bar in the first place...oh, wait, I haven't mentioned the bar yet. At the beginning of the film, we see Lucas (Dano) living on the streets homeless. The entirety of his friends and family is embodied in one small kitten that gets killed while he is in the hospital recovering from a suicide attempt. This happens so early in the film that it's just a general sense of "that sucks" instead of "and to think, he and the cat had such a good friendship."
In the hospital, he shares a room with Jacques (Brian Cox), who is in for his fifth heart attack. Jacques owns and runs a tiny Cheers-type bar, which, like him, is unchanging. Predictably, Jacques takes in Lucas and teaches him to run the bar since Jacques knows his time is short without receiving a heart transplant. Bet you can't see where this is going.
One night, inexplicably, a French stewardess who's afraid to fly wanders into the bar (which Jacques believes is no place for a woman) and instantly wins over the heart of Lucas. Her presence changes the very essence of the bar - the way the patrons interact, and even the decor. All of this to the dismay of Jacques, who cannot abide change. She even convinces Lucas to marry her on a whim.
A few life lessons are learned by both Lucas and Jacques along the way. Jacques softens a bit; Lucas starts to embody manhood. Their hearts begin to change - we get it. The symbolic hybridization of their hearts alludes to Lucas's untimely demise, wherein his heart is transplanted into Jacques.
Again, you never expect this at any point prior to the exact moment it happens.
I just want to add that the film isn't terrible; cliches carried out to perfection just tend to irk me. Despite its pace and predictability, there's some thoughtful considerations it requests from its audience about man as a social animal and how this interaction affects him as an individual, and vice versa. And though it's been done 1.637 million times before, the blurred line of mentor / student that constitutes their friendship isn't without its beautiful moments.
See it. Just don't expect a revelatory experience.
This Film: D+