By Don Simpson | May 10, 2013
Director: Dante Ariola
Writer: Becky Johnston
Starring: Emily Blunt, Colin Firth, Anne Heche, Sterling Beaumon, David Andrews, Autumn Dial, Lucas Hedges, Steve Coulter, Phillip Troy Linger
A floor manager of Fed Ex, everyman Wallace Avery (Colin Firth) drives to the beach in his nondescript SUV; he drives away from the beach in a BMW convertible as Arthur J. Newman, a golf pro on a road trip to Terra Haut, Indiana. As Arthur sits in his new convertible, excited about the possibilities of his new life, he begins developing a new accent and colloquial sayings. This seems to be a play on Colin Firth’s development of this character; it also explains the easily apparent falseness of the strange dialect that Arthur settles on. Language is one of the many fabricated aspects of the Arthur J. Newman persona; as we learn more about Wallace’s past we understand why he feels the need to adopt this facade.
Enter Mike (Emily Blunt), a beautiful but troubled young woman who hides beneath the hoodied disguise of a brooding goth chick. As it turns out, Mike is on the run from the responsibilities of her “normal” life as well, so she decides to tag along with Arthur. Their false personas may be convincing enough for most passersby, but Mike and Arthur quickly begin to pick away at each other’s lies. And, thus, the fighting begins…
The constantly bickering odd couple finds solace in playing a game of breaking into strangers’ houses and temporarily taking on the identities of the owners. As if their current false identities are not enough, this game elevates both characters’ identity crises to astronomical levels. It is also a bonding experience for them, as it becomes their way of revealing their processes for taking on new personalities. Mainly, it serves as an escape mechanism — as they discover more and more truths about each other, they hide behind additional layers of disguises.
Written by Becky Johnston and directed by Dante Ariola, Arthur Newman is a rather unlikely romantic drama about two con artists who want to escape the excruciating mundanity of their everyday existence. Mike and Arthur are depressed. They want to break free of their weighty family obligations, if only for a while; weaving a web of lies is their only foreseeable option to experience freedom. Of course that is not a good lesson for a film to be teaching the masses, so Arthur Newman turns around and explains the importance of being there for your family.