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What it is about the pursuit of the perfect house that drives us to such lengths? A home can say everything about who we are and what we say to others as person, or at least often does, and movies have made the quest for such a small sub genre all its own, from The Notebook to The Money Pit. With The Architect, the house is the story and while much of it is standard and doesn’t build to where it might have, there is a quirky appeal that makes most of it work in a leisurely sort of way.
It tells the story of Drew (Parker Posey) and Colin (Eric McCormack), a young couple who are not exactly a rock steady husband and wife looking for a new home, and with pressure to do it right, buy a fixer-upper on a beautiful piece of lakeside property. When nature decides it shouldn’t stand anymore and blights it from the Earth, they hire an eccentric architect named Miles Moss (James Frain) to put together the house of their dreams but that isn’t so easy when he worms his way into the widening gap between them and sets about building his own vision of where they should live.
Directed by Jonathan Parker, The Architect feels like it should be funnier than it is even as a few good laughs hit the mark. The movie is billed as a comedy but it really isn’t, the story meant more to be a dramatic social satire that sets up a number of possible very workable comedic moments but can’t always find the payoff. This is a character-driven movie that constructs a purposeful triangle between the leads, with the artistically-confined Drew drawn more to Miles’ idiosyncratic tendencies that seem born of art than that Colin, who is just looking to make sure there’s a flat screen TV in the bathroom. With their sex life down to schedules and counseling, Colin obsessed with his health, and Drew disappearing into her mediocrity, there is a lot breaking down between them and of course the house-building process becomes metaphor to the marriage and the relationships themselves, rather a nice twist on the usual opposite.
The Architect is rarely original though with its troubled artist and crumbling couple but does have many good moments, including any time John Carroll Lynch shows up as the contractor and a cameo of sorts by Pamela Reed. It’s never as scathing as it could be nor as dramatic either, settling more on a predictable path that doesn’t quite challenge like it should with a one-dimensional Miles that has no trait other than pompous, his constant baritone condescension funny at first but almost intolerable by the end. Frain is effective but the character is simply too obvious with his wool scarves and hipster coats. The same goes for McCormack who is his opposite, a man constantly seeing the benefits of reduction. Both are broadly drawn so tightly to the corners, there’s no room for any innovation. Posey however is very fun, though watching her, you can’t help but hope she’ll let loose as she so typically does.
To be sure, The Architect is not what it looks like, taking a sharp turn in the final act that abandons all threads of comedy for a more darker tone and while the end is certainly satisfying there is a flatness that keeps it from where you might expect. Given no reason to care about anyone in the story, this makes for a middling experience with very few calories but in the right frame of might, could be a pleasant enough escape.
Movie description: The Architect is a 2017 comedy about a couple who decide to build their dream house but run afoul of an unconventional architect with plans of his own.
Director(s): Jonathan Parker
Actor(s): Parker Posey, John Carroll Lynch, James Frain
Genre: Comedy, Drama