Will Ferrell is best known as a big and small screen funnyman (his 7 year stint on Saturday Night Live and his current role as the clueless boss in The Office) but in the course of his movie career, he has mixed up his comedy shtick (TALLEDAGA NIGHTS, BLADES OF GLORY) with the occasional searing drama (STRANGER THAN FICTION). He returns to the dramatic form for EVERYTHING MUST GO. The film, which had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and its New York premiere at last month’s Tribeca Film Festival , opens nationally on May 13.
Based on a short story by Raymond Carver, Ferrell is cast as Nicolas Halsey, an alcoholic executive who arrives home after losing his job to discover that his wife (Rebecca Hall) has locked him out of the house and thrown all his stuff on the lawn. Nicolas subsequently spends the next several days on the lawn trying to make sense of his life, with his efforts assisted by a number of curious neighbors and passersby. For his feature helming and screenwriting debut, Dan Rush has infused the film with a low-key sensibility that allows the conflicts in Nicolas’ life to be delineated in a deliberate but not overly dramatic way. Hidden inside his personable and charismatic performance are the seeds of mean spiritedness that is fueled by the character’s alcoholism and infantile approach to the world. We related to him but can also see how his behavior can bring out the worst in others as well as himself.
The film itself is a series of interludes, with Nicolas’ visit with an old high school friend (sensitively played by Laura Dern) anchoring the film as its emotional high point. Only in the last stretch, when the film can have several possible multiple endings (each hitting its own note of melancholy, regret and hopefulness), the narrative continues and becomes a little repetitive. In the end, EVERYTHING MUST GO is far more effective as a showcase for Ferrell’s surprising and engrossing performance – as the film proves that he can be quite effective when he’s not acting like an over-the-top buffoon. For more information on the film, to be released by Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions, visit: http://www.roadsideattractions.com/