The film is divided, along with Johnny's life, into two sections: before he met Mercy, and after - These "Before" and "After"
segments are intercut in a way that propels the drama rather than merely slicing and dicing it. The fulcrum that divides the
happy Johnny, who woos and wins Mercy, from his puffy, bearded, mad-at-the-world “After” version is the stuff of melodrama.
And though Glenn lends an intelligent edge to Mercy, the character serves mainly as an object of desire, a perfect beauty as
narrative device. The changes in Johnny are obvious to all who know him, including his agent (Dylan McDermott), his married
pal (Troy Garity), and his father, a literature professor from whom he is mostly estranged. Real-life father and son infuse their
characters’ interactions with a deeply tangled competitive intensity. Caan’s performance doesn’t require much explanation.
Like his father, he’s no stranger to roles of tough-guy swagger, and he knows how to strut the fine line
betweenobnoxiousness and charm.
Everyone involved in this film brought their A-game to their roles. Scott Caan showed great emotional range and Dylan
McDermott’s sleazy portrayal of his literary agent could give “Entourage’s“‘ Ari Gold a run for his money. The characters were
interesting and entertaining to watch from beginning to end. James Caan played Ryan’s emotionally inept father who passed
down his women hating ways to his son. It would have been great to see more of his background to understand what made
him so cold and disconnected.
Scott wrote the screenplay with a non-linear narrative and in some cases that could be confusing but here it was worked
perfectly. Also the way he wrote the characters was very natural. The dialogue was witty but not over the top and the
emotional scenes were dramatic but not heavy handed. The overall script had a steady balance.
Caan was smart not to direct himself this time, handing the reins to first-timer Patrick Hoelck and thus avoiding the
appearance of making a vanity project. Were he in the director's chair himself, his meaty, emotional-rock-bottom scenes
would have seemed particularly self-indulgent: "Just look at me ACT!" Instead, they are respectably performed and effective.
When it hits its marks it delivers well-observed moments that pack a punch. The lead actor and his father, James Caan, share
the hardest-hitting scenes, and their matchup will be a key draw. The exchanges between the Caans, in the late-night dark of
a rural cabin, strip away everything but what matters: two proud and vulnerable men facing off across a bottle of booze.
Going into Mercy, I was under the impression that it would be a melodrama about a yuppie guy who gets turned out by love
and it was nothing like that. There was drama but it was balanced by a few well placed comedic moments. The characters by
far were the best part of the film. They’re portrayed as real people dealing with unfortunate events. There’s nothing
outlandish or Hollywood about this movie and that was refreshing a change.
Those of you who read my reviews surely have noticed I love movies that make you feel. At its most compelling, the film
explores the legacy of wounded hearts, with sharp glances at obsessive relationships and lonely hookups. This movie could
easily be an indie drama that sucks the life and joy out of its viewers for an hour and a half but it doesn’t. It’s a lot lighter than
expected and entertains on every level.
October 19, 2010
Review - " Mercy " - (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by :Patrick Hoelck
Writen by: Scott Caan
Starring: Scott Caan, Wendy Glenn, Troy Garity, John Boyd, James
Caan, Dylan McDermott, Erika Christensen, Whitney Able, Bre Blair,
Dorian Brown, Thom Cammer, Alexie Gilmore
In a certain kind of indie movie, the only thing sweeter than a bad
boy transformed is slow, sad tragedy. "Mercy" has both. Star Scott
Caan (who also wrote the script) has a jerky confidence that's
pleasantly distracting. Johnny Ryan (Scott Caan) is a successful
young romance novelist who doesn’t actually believe in love. When
he meets the beautiful and mysterious Mercy (Wendy Glenn),
Johnny’s world is suddenly turned upside down. Shockingly, she is
the only major critic who dislikes his book. A cynic by nature, Johnny
becomes determined to find the depth that Mercy says he is lacking
and, in the process, falls in love. With an all star supporting cast
including James Caan and Dylan McDermott "Mercy" explores the
struggle of maintaining a relationship, and the possibility of losing it
It's at the release party for his third novel that Johnny meets Mercy,
a gorgeous, slender brunette who, unlike most heterosexual women
(or so we're led to understand), is not instantly bowled over by
Johnny's smooth cocky charm. Nor, it turns out, does she like his
writing. This wouldn't normally bother Johnny - he prefers women
who can barely read anyway - but in this case it's troubling because
she's a New York Times book critic. Now with two reasons to pursue
her (the usual one, and her negative opinion of his work), Johnny
redoubles his efforts to get close to her.