2 Jacks: Film Review

Danny Huston's slyly referential turn as a charming old-school filmmaker is the highlight of this Tinseltown-set tale.

Danny Huston and his nephew Jack star in this modern-day adaptation of Tolstoy's short story "The Two Hussars."

Danny Huston delivers a compelling riff on his legendary filmmaker father John in 2 Jacks, Bernard Rose’s loose, modern-day adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s short story The Two Hussars. Playing a roguishly charming director boozing, brawling and seducing his way through Hollywood while seeking financing for his next film, the charismatic actor delivers a virtuoso turn co-starring with his real-life nephew Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire), who plays his son.

The film is divided into two segments, the first featuring the older Huston as Jack Hussar, a veteran filmmaker who’s clearly down on his luck as evidenced by the less than warm greeting he gets when he returns to Los Angeles. Given a ride to his hotel by Brad (Dave Pressler) an unctuous wannabe producer, he finds that his hotel declines to give him a room until he settles up his large bill. After he leeches off Brad for the money, the hotel refuses him anyway.

Arriving at a Hollywood party while smoking a huge cigar, Jack spots the beautiful society-type beauty Diana (Sienna Miller) across the crowded room. He soon sweeps her up in a tango dance, and shortly thereafter seduces her, telling her, “I would do anything for you … I would walk through fire.” Later, he’s pulled over by a cop on suspicion of drunk driving, but manages to talk his way out of being arrested through the sheer force of his charisma. The film’s first segment concludes with a poker game in which he manages to win financing and final cut of his next project from his wary producer (Richard Portnow).

Cut to 20 years later: We’re introduced to his son, Jack Jr., who similarly arrives in L.A. to make a movie. He promptly comes into contact with the older Diana (now played by Jacqueline Bisset) and her daughter, Lily (Rosie Fellner), with history repeating itself as the two offspring begin a flirtation. Except that things have changed: The younger Hussar displays little of his father’s finesse, as illustrated when he too is pulled over by a cop after engaging in some car sex with an aspiring starlet and finds himself arrested and photographed by rapacious paparazzi.

While the film is not entirely convincing in its mirroring of Tolstoy’s story about collapsing values, it’s a reasonably entertaining portrait of disreputable Tinseltown types that should at least provide some knowing chuckles for insiders.

Director-screenwriter Rose’s chief stylistic conceit is to shoot the first half in monochromatic, washed-out tones, with the second half blooming into full color. Another reminder of the story’s origins is the ever-present Russian-style musical score featuring generous doses of balalaika.

Ultimately, it’s little more than a trifle that’s enlivened by the older Huston’s inevitably referential performance. Looking and sounding uncannily like his old man, the actor makes his delight in conveying his character’s rakish appeal infectious.

Opens: October 18 (Breaking Glass Pictures)

Production: Rough Diamond Productions

Cast: Danny Huston, Jack Huston, Sienna Miller, Jacqueline Bissett, Billy Zane, Rosie Fellner

Director/screenwriter/director of photography/editor: Bernard Rose

Producer: Julia Verdin

Executive producers: Priscilla Ross, Marcy Levitas Hamilton, Strath Hamilton, Danny Huston

Production designer: Bradd Fillmann

Costume designer: Julia Clancey

Music: Iryna Orlova, Anatoliy Mamalyga

Not rated, 90 minutes