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[Editor’s note: This review for One More Time was first published when the film was titled When I Live My Life Over Again.]
A showbiz family drama about second, third and fifteenth chances, Robert Edwards‘s When I Live My Life Over Again finds an old crooner (Christopher Walken) whose never-say-curtains attitude contrasts sharply with his daughter’s unwillingness to take the stage. Walken is the main attraction here; though the film identifies more with the wayward daughter, played by Amber Heard, it doesn’t make her nearly as interesting as his name-dropping, spotlight-hogging entertainer. The actor’s fans, who get too few chances to see him in this kind of role, should ensure that the likeable but underwhelming pic performs much better than Edwards’s universally panned 2006 debut Land of the Blind.
When Heard’s Jude, facing eviction in Manhattan and having little in the way of work, reluctantly heads out to stay for a while at dad’s Hamptons home, her lack of ambition could not be plainer: Not only does her father (she calls him “Paul” instead of “Pop”) frequently nudge her to use her musical gifts; her sister Corinne (a no-nonsense Kelli Garner) has turned the house into a second office, fielding all sorts of calls about her successful restaurant’s operations while her husband (Hamish Linklater) does most of the parenting.
Paul, who laments that he didn’t live in the era of Sinatra, had some hit records during crooner-friendly years but languished in later decades with many ill-conceived comeback attempts (reggae album, hippie revivalism). Now, for the first time, he has penned his own material in hopes of getting back to his roots. The title song (written by Robert Edwards and Joe McGinty, the onetime Psychedelic Furs keyboardist who runs New York’s charming Loser’s Lounge tribute series) is a finger-snapper boasting couplets that would fit in a Cole Porter or Irving Berlin tune — “If I’d been born in Hindustan / I’d re-in-car-nate, like Hindus can” — and gives a sweetly optimistic character to Paul’s yearning for more success. Without it, we’d have to judge him by the crassness of his resentful talk around the house — Where’s my VH1 special, Paul wonders, and why am I stuck “in the slums of the Hamptons”?
By contrast, Jude’s complaints about life are vague and mostly go unspoken. Watching a privileged, good-looking youth let the world pass her by isn’t nearly as interesting as seeing how she sits in judgment of her old man, lamenting his taste in women (poor Ann Magnuson, in the thankless role of Wife Number I-Lost-Count) and worrying he will yet again embarrass himself in search of another hit. While we may find it hard to root for Jude, Paul doesn’t, and Walken’s cajoling (“Come aahn. I’ll be dead soon.”) supplies most of the film’s bright moments.
Production company: Parts & Labor
Cast: Christopher Walken, Amber Heard, Kelli Garner, Hamish Linklater, Ann Magnuson, Oliver Platt, Henry Kelemen
Director-Screenwriter: Robert Edwards
Producers: Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Lucas Joaquin, Ferne Pearlstein, Saerom Kim, Chris Maybach, Saemi Kim
Executive producers: Daniel Baur, Robert O. Kaplan, Eugene Lee, Tae-hun Lee, Oliver Simon
Director of photography: Anne Etheridge
Production designer: Scott Kuzio
Costume designer: Malgosia Turzanska
Editor: Mollie Goldstein
Music: Joe McGinty
Casting directors: Eve Battaglia, Eyde Belasco
Sales: Nick Ogiony, CAA; Carl Clifton, K5 International
No rating, 95 minutes
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