Thank You for Smoking Reviews
Silver-tongued Nick Naylor is Aaron Eckhart's ride into the big league
So much names in this. Great scene with the death tolls argument
On its surface, the film is portrait of a man, whose job is to convince the nation that smoking cigarettes are not at all harmful. Beyond it, explores the ego and greed that fuels the politics of tobacco smoking; it is not about the subject being discussed but rather the people that endorses it. The film is mainly centred on the protagonist, which at first may come off as one-sided, but because the film spends enough time in fleshing out the other players of the game, therefore balancing out the film's character study and social/political commentary. Reitman could have simply placed all of its eggs on the one basket, our protagonist, but that would have been too easy and shallow. It was certainly entertaining to learn, while at the same time laugh at, the tobacco situation in America. The film's comedy is so effective because what we are seeing is real, these are true human beings that fight for these causes; the only difference between it and reality, is the filter that Reitman applies in order to remove the subject's depressing atmosphere. The film's weakest aspect is its most sentimental one, and that is the relationship between the protagonist and his child; this is not to say its sentimentality is the primary rationale for its effect on me, as I felt that was handled tastefully. My issue with the film's human drama is the lack of punch that I was expecting from a Reitman film. Both "Young Adult" and "Up in the Air", possesses that element that would make care so much about the protagonist and the relationships that they own. Thankfully, the film makes up for it with its highly entertaining and fascinating subject and individual quirky characters that never at any point cross the line of being either boring or useless.
Thank You for Smoking is Jason Reitman's first feature, and let me just say; what a debut! Reitman avoids the conventionality of drama-comedy films that were released during the time. Reitman adds his own personal sense of style, which certainly wasn't found in his two succeeding films, allowing Thank You for Smoking to really stand out. The director's aesthetic for the film is a blend of directors that may or may not have influenced him; I was able to pick up some Wes Anderson, David Fincher, and Martin Scorsese trademarks in this film, it is certainly an odd mixture but what he has delivered here, proved me otherwise. Though the film is brimming with style, it never reaches to a point where it defines or overtakes the film, unlike the directors that influenced it, as Reitman believes that a film's power comes from its characters, particularly his protagonists. Take a look at all of his films, as all of them seem to demonstrate fascinating and absorbing protagonist that evidently rises above almost all aspects of the film; when we think of Up In The Air, Young Adult, and Juno, what is the first thing that come to our minds? Straight away, it should be the protagonist of the story. I cannot carry this, though, to Reitman's latest film Labor Day as I have yet to see it.
The cast for this film is wonderful, with each and every one of them delivering Grade A performances. I think this was the film that convinced Christopher Nolan to cast Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent, as his performance here was just phenomenal. He brought so much charisma to his role here as Nick Naylor, that it's difficult to not be persuaded or be hypnotized with everything he does here. The rest of the cast was great but none could hold a candle to Aaron Eckhart's performance; the stands out would have to be William H. Macy and J.K. Simmons.
Thank You for Smoking would be a great starting point in exploring Jason Reitman's filmography, as I think it would be a great warm up to his succeeding films. Reitman's debut is an underrated gem of 21st century cinema.
As Reitman tries to underline, and the therefore cut the bullshit, in this big business dramedy, you'd be hard-pressed to not feel dizzy after sitting through all this spin, that keeps promising more than a movie yet adheres to most of the tropes and genre conventions out there.
I wanted to feel enlightened or maybe a bit more cynical, however I came out of it entertained and, sadly, not a lot more.