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Arthur Newman (2013)



Average Rating: 4.8/10
Reviews Counted: 49
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 39

Despite the natural charisma of its leads, Arthur Newman does little with its intriguing setup, and the result is bland and unconvincing.


Average Rating: 4.6/10
Critic Reviews: 16
Fresh: 0 | Rotten: 16

Despite the natural charisma of its leads, Arthur Newman does little with its intriguing setup, and the result is bland and unconvincing.



liked it
Average Rating: 2.7/5
User Ratings: 1,311

My Rating

Movie Info

Wallace Avery (Colin Firth) is tired of his existence. Divorced, disconnected from his young son, dissatisfied with his love life, depressed and in the doldrums of middle age, he decides to make a radical change by walking away from his old life. He buys a new identity and hits the road as Arthur Newman to begin life anew, bound for Terre Haute, Indiana, where he dreams of reinventing himself as a golf pro at a tiny country club. But his road trip is derailed by the entrance of Michaela "Mike"


Drama, Romance, Comedy

Becky Johnston

Sep 3, 2013


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All Critics (49) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (39)

An offbeat, sometimes self-congratulatory road movie romance.

April 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Richard
Top Critic IconTop Critic

They embark on one of those maundering, life-lessony odysseys that filmmakers love but audiences rarely do.

April 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of those many indies that exist to give actors a chance to go slumming.

April 26, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
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Well-acted but ultimately unmemorable ...

April 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film equivalent of a dysfunctional computer sloppily assembled from discarded parts of other machines.

April 25, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The promise it begins with doesn't pay off. And while "Arthur Newman" is not a complete disaster, it does leave you wishing the romance and the ride had been a whole lot smoother.

April 25, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Completely disposable ...

June 29, 2014 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

A film that fails to make the most of a good cast and a great premise.

June 26, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

A bland and baffling oddity ...

June 26, 2014 Full Review Source: Guardian

The stars play strangers on an odd road trip who are meant to be finding things out about each other: if you were put next to either of them on a plane, you would quickly regret your seating assignment.

June 26, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Constantly screws up even its own mid-sized ambitions.

February 20, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Mezzanine
Movie Mezzanine

a far-fetched story, told in a rather unappealing way.

October 18, 2013 Full Review Source: The National
The National

Despite some amusing lighthearted moments, the film stumbles when it attempts to be more profound.

June 12, 2013 Full Review Source:

Arthur Newman is overwhelmed with arty ambitions and a heavy-handed acting style. Ultimately, all the weight prevents the film from taking off and soaring.

May 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Obviously the theme of "Arthur Newman" is the American dream of starting over, but Johnston's screenplay hits it so obviously that it loses its resonance.

April 29, 2013 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

A strange film about dysfunctional people directed with good pace by Dante Ariola in his feature film debut highlighted by fine performances by Colin Firth and Emily Blunt.

April 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Tolucan Times
Tolucan Times

Academy-award winner Colin Firth seems to be doing someone a favor by agreeing to play Walter Avery/Arthur Newman.

April 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Ariola can't keep the proceedings moving forward, wallowing in the blue mood for far too long. It makes a decent movie with something to share about the exhaustion of defense mechanisms into a slog that leaves its actors high and dry.

April 26, 2013 Full Review Source:

Firth and Blunt give life (and flawless American accents) to this restrained, and occasionally bland, road trip flick.

April 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Big Hollywood
Big Hollywood

Firth's performance alone would have been enough to hail this film by director Dante Ariola. Toss in an equally powerful performance by Blunt, and the film turns to a masterwork of acting.

April 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Fresno Bee
Fresno Bee

Often-somber drama has language, sex, drinking.

April 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

This is a decidedly minor effort, directed by Dante Ariola with a bland, generic eye, missing the pathos of interesting drama and the charm of quality romantic cinema.

April 26, 2013 Full Review Source: amNewYork

Audience Reviews for Arthur Newman

This got off to a slow start...painfully slow. If it ever picked up I don't know cause I bailed.
May 3, 2014
Bathsheba Monk
Bathsheba Monk

Super Reviewer

An interesting film, with two of my favorite actors. Rather slow at times. I put off watching this movie due to the bad reviews, and listless quality of the trailer. I liked it better than I thought I would, though. A halfway decent, quiet afternoon movie, with a nice ending to it all...
January 13, 2014

Super Reviewer

If you don't have a life, get someone else's.

Good Film! This is both a downer movie with two unhappy leads trying to survive their lives and a feel-good movie about people who find something in each other to survive. It's not quite a romance that develops, but there is a kind of loving co-dependence. It's meant to be deeper and more moving than it is mostly a issue of the writing again but you get the drift and it works overall. In the end, at the end, you wish so much it had been more than it was. It has so many interesting qualities that don't get pulled out, the surprising convergence in the plot, the game of taking on identities, the psychological depth of being who you are and accepting that. I felt let down by what did happen. The solutions are a bit obvious and almost cheap, depending on formulas seen before. Which is too bad because the set-up and the actors are worth more than that.

Wallace Avery hates his job. His ex-wife and son hate him, and he's blown his one shot at living his dream. Not wanting to face all this, he stages his own death and buys himself a new identity as Arthur Newman. However, Arthur's road trip towards anew life is interrupted by the arrival of the beautiful but fragile Mike, who is also trying to leave her past behind. Drawn to one another, these two damaged souls begin to connect as they break into empty homes and take on the identities of the absent owners: elderly newlyweds, a high-roller and his Russian lady, among others. Through this process, Arthur and Mike discover that what they love most about each other are the identities they left at home, and their real journey, that of healing, begins.
December 24, 2013
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

It's a film about a man named Wallace Avery - who takes on the identity of Arthur Newman - that stars Colin Firth and Emily Blunt, so, come one, just how American can this film possibly be? Well, Blunt has been doing a decent job of going Brit on us lately, but Firth, now, he's so British that his name is Colin, and if that doesn't make this film British enough, then the dryness might. Well, maybe this film isn't all that bland, but it can't be easy to bring intrigue into the story of a man who takes up a job as a FedEx floor manager after quitting pro golf... and before faking his own death and beginning an adventure with a disturbed young woman who is also running from her past. ...Actually, in all seriousness, golf is so bland that even when there's a death in its industry, it's faked, so, come on, man, where's the juice? I mean, the last FedEx man who became dead to the world at least found himself struggling to survive in harsh island elements, although, in all fairness, where Chuck Noland only had a volley ball to keep him company, the titular Arthur Newman has Emily Blunt. Okay, fine, I've never fully understood everyone's infatuation with Blunt, but she's not too bad, and at any rate, she's better than nothing, so enjoy, Arthur, you cradle robber. I understand that Firth is only in his early 50s, but man, his American accent, while adequately convincing, makes him sound old, and that doesn't exactly help fight the blandness, nor do certain other problems in the film.

First off, a lot of the film's problems are natural, as it follows a relatively minimalist, light story concept that, as a dramedy, has a fair bit of meat, but rarely takes itself too seriously, although that's not to say that you can't feel the tonal shifts, perhaps too much. Again, this film doesn't take itself way too seriously, but the relatively light, if not all-out humorous tone is often broken by seriousness, if not a hint of intensity. The film isn't all over the place with its tone, but it is decidedly uneven, even if most every notable aspect in storytelling keeps consistent in holding tropes, which craft a path that is too predictable for the narrative to flow as smoothly as it probably should. Natural shortcomings are considerable and limit bite, which is further staled by familiarity, yet there are more direct instruments of blandness, and, as you can imagine, they pertain to pacing. While the final product is by no means all that long, Becky Johnston's script offers repetitiously draggy story structuring that is made all the more meandering-feeling by meditative direction by Dante Ariola that, due to the aforementioned natural shortcomings, has only so much material to flavor up with thoughtfulness. This results in dry spells, of which there are plenty, and while there is enough heart to this dramedy to keep entertainment value adequate and charm abundant, dull moments ice an under-baked effort that ultimately collapses as fairly underwhelming. That being said, the film doesn't fall as far behind potential as some are saying, having only so much potential, to be sure, but plenty of endearing heart, and even aesthetic value.

There's little uniqueness and depth to Eduard Grau's cinematography, but there's a certain lovely ruggedness to it that is still arguably not quite as tasteful as Nick Urata's score, which is formulaic, but has a certain minimalist heart to it that is admittedly pretty beautiful. Sure, aesthetic value is limited, but it is nonetheless present, with slight dynamicity to capture layers that are truly established in Becky Johnston's script. Johnston's writing, while formulaic, flawed in tonal and pacing consistency, and even pretty far-fetched at times, isn't too shabby, offering some subtly witty humor, but being about as dramatic as anything, with a limited attention to intensity that is still deep enough to establish a certain degree of intrigue, particularly behind characterization that is brought to life by the performances. Material is limited, of course, but the talented leads do what they can and end up going pretty far, with Colin Firth being subtly charismatic and subtly layered in a subdued portrayal of a decent, but flawed man seeking a new life, while Emily Blunt proves to be, well, downright excellent, conveying a sense of mystery and expressing a wide range - which covers most everything from free-spiritedness to anguish - that capture the depths of a scarred woman on the run with so much assurance that Blunt ultimately stands as easily one of the most effective attributes of the final product. Blunt's material stands to be more consistent, but there are enough highlights to this performance to make it one of Blunt's best, worthy of being paired up with a performance by Firth that further carries this effort. Really, there are a fair couple of aspects to draw some heart out of an interesting story concept, with one of those aspects being Dante Ariola's direction, which is often too dry for you to overlook shortcomings, but still carries a thoughtfulness to pacing that allows you to also soak up the strengths. Ariola's tasteful plays on filmmaking aspects create a meditativeness that captures certain areas of the drama, and enough of the lightheartedness to create static charm, which may not entertain thoroughly (To tell you the truth, about the funniest thing about this film is the fact that it's director is named Dante [u]Ariola[/u]), but does about as much as anything in establish enough engagement value to make the final product an endearing, if somewhat forgettable dramedy.

When the heat has died down, natural limitations in meat are emphasized enough by tonally uneven, formulaic and even blandly draggy storytelling for the final product to sputter out as underwhelming, but through fine cinematography and score work, decent writing, solid performances by Colin Firth and - most of all - Emily Blunt, and endearing direction, "Arthur Newman" is left standing as a charming and sometimes effective light drama, in spite of its problems.

2.5/5 - Fair
January 9, 2014
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron Johnson

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Arthur Newman (Arthur and Mike) (DE)
  • Arthur and Mike (UK)
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