Arthur Newman Film Review
Dante Ariola’s new film, Arthur Newman is about a man who abandons his real name and life to acquire the identity of someone else. The film’s slogan, “If you don’t have a life, get someone else’s” is fitting for the main character and the young woman he becomes involved with throughout his journey of new self-discovery.
The movie wastes no time in depicting the new life that Wallace Avery, played by Collin Firth, has chosen for himself. The first scene is a gradual close-up of Wallace, a man with sad eyes, looking confused and lost in thought. He has made up his mind to forget his past and start a new life, one where he pursues his dream of playing golf. We later learn that the name Arthur Newman came to Wallace like a light bulb over his head. He picked the name and he was determined to pick the outcome of his new life, but the question, “Is it possible to truly start all over again?” is answered at the end of the movie.
The audience never knows exactly why Wallace wanted to change his identity in the first place. Was real life really that bad? We know he is divorced and disconnected from his son, but we learn that he is not truly alone for he has a woman he has been involved with, Mina Crawley, played by Anne Heche. It is clear that she has not provided the satisfactory sex life he wishes to have and so he leaves her and his entire life behind to pursue something better.
With his new identity, Arthur’s adventures begin when he is kind to a young woman he finds drugged and on the verge of an overdose. He takes her to the nearest hospital and the two of them quickly become friends. Michaela “Mike” Fitzgerald, played by Emily Blunt, is a kleptomaniac fleeing from domestic troubles of her own, and she is a strong influence on Arthur, inciting him to engage in things he would have never dreamed of.
The two of them follow strangers to their homes and wait until they leave so that they may break in and adopt the identity of the homeowners for their own sexual pleasure. The theatrics all lead to what looks like exciting and passionate sex well played on screen.
Their games continue for some time and even after Arthur is embarrassed by the man who was to hire him in his golf court. The new name that Arthur has adopted lacks a past and so he runs into some trouble with his future boss, Fred Willoughby, played by David Andrews. When Fred had searched Arthur Newman he came up empty on any golf accomplishments and called Arthur a liar. In fact the accomplishments belong to Wallace Avery, who is considered missing as Wallace tried to fake his own death before becoming Arthur Newman.
It was this moment and the experiences gained from taking on the identities of the absent homeowners that remind Arthur and Mike of their own real identities that they left behind. It is through this journey that the two of them discover the importance of healing. The process that Arthur and Mike go through teaches them as well as those watching that fixing what is broken is more dynamic than throwing it away for something else because not always is that something else truly better. This answers the question that one cannot possibly start all over again with a clean slate.