Melissa’s Review: ‘The Humbling’ is Confusingly Brilliant


The Humbling tells the story of aging, suicidal stage actor Simon Axler (Al Pacino) and his struggles to find passion for life again. Near his breaking point, he finds motivation in the form of a young and lustful lesbian, Pegeen Stapleford (Greta Gerwig), who has had a crush on Simon since childhood. As their relationship heats up, Simon has a hard time keeping up with the youthful and exuberant Pegeen. He feels more alive than ever before but with many disapproving people protesting their relationship, Simon must decide where his true passion lies. The Humbling is directed by Barry Levinson and also stars Kyra Sedgwick, Charles Grodin, Dianne Wiest, Dan Hedaya and Nina Arianda.

At nearly two hours, The Humbling takes its time. What’s lurking beneath the surface is the story walking the line between reality and hallucination, never letting you know which you’re witnessing. This makes for an exhausting watch, but upon reflection, it only underlines how brilliant of a script it really is.

The opening scene is somewhat reminiscent of one from Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). I won’t elaborate, you’ll see. Al Pacino brings an odd joy to his character of Simon Axler, a man who has seemingly given up hope for his future. Oddly sympathetic and mischievous, Pacino makes the role his own.

Greta Gerwig‘s character, Pegeen, was hard to connect with, but complex and intriguing. Charles Grodin was delightful, as are supporting characters played by Dan Hedaya, Dianne Wiest and Kyra Sedgwick.

Available on demand and in theaters this Friday, January 23rd.

About Melissa Hanson

Melissa Hanson aka Dial M For Melissa - Managing Editor / Podcast Producer - Growing up, Melissa’s favorite destination was always the video store and would agonize over whether to watch something new or to rewatch a favorite. Things have not changed. Follow on Twitter @DialMForMelissa

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