You can almost see life itself dripping off of Al Pacino’s face in Manglehorn. Pacino stars as the title character, an aging locksmith who seems to have alienated everyone in his life except his beloved cat. Drawn down by loss, booze, anger and regret, Manglehorn’s face resembles a melting candle, with wrinkles, rather than wax, running down its side.
So this is an exercise in anti-glam for the Hollywood icon, even if Pacino still delivers a few signature, hoo-hah flourishes here and there (which especially stand out when he’s working with the nonprofessional actors often favored by director David Gordon Green). As a character study, the movie is interesting enough, though the screenplay by Paul Logan follows a fairly predictable pattern of hope, relapse and eventual (and a bit too easy) redemption.
More compelling is the texture of the film, as Green (Joe, All the Real Girls) indulges his dreamy realist tendencies until they feel downright experimental. There are moments, especially when Manglehorn is in extreme distress, when the images blur and the sound layers, so that Manglehorn’s inner monologue melds with the distracting noises of the world around him. At another point, his morning alarm clock alternately blares and quiets on the soundtrack, in sync with the way he intermittently covers his own ears.
These touches aside, Manglehorn mostly registers as a mild curiosity – a blip in both Green and Pacino’s careers.