Very few films have lingered in the post-production pipeline as long as Turning Green, a dark comedy that was actually a runner-up for Project Greenlight and played in festivals way back in 2005. How could a film with intriguing actors like Timothy Hutton, Allesandro Nivola, and Colm Meaney lay on a shelf for so long? Could it really be that bad? No, it's not THAT bad. What's more likely is that it was simply forgotten. The coming-of-age story never comes together, wasting talented people in small roles, miscasting the lead, and ineffectively mixing its tones. By the time the film gets around to attempting honest drama in the final act, audiences are unlikely to care. Turning Green should have had a brief run in art theaters before
shuffling off to DVD four years ago. It may have been delayed nearly
half a decade, but that's exactly what will happen now. A forgettable
movie is forgettable no matter the year it's released.
Donal Gallery plays James Powers, an Irish-American shipped back to the homeland after the death of his mother. In 1979, a teenage James is dissatisfied with everything about his life, including his new country. In America, he's called Irish. In Ireland, he's called American. He's an outsider looking for something to kill the time between masturbation sessions (the film is unhealthily obsessed with jerking off, repeatedly returning to it as a comic device). Living with his aunts, James works to try and escape the boredom of Ireland before he turns green.
Like a lot of coming-of-age stories, James finds himself drawn into the seedier side of Ireland. He collects for the local bookie, Bill the Bookie (Alessandro Nivola), and his right hand man Bill the Breaker (Timothy Hutton). Taking money from one of Bill's clients, the friendly Tom (Colm Meaney), James finds his own moneymaking venture in something that constantly steals his attention – naked women. In 1979 Ireland, it was a lot harder to see a naked woman and James buys porno mags and re-sells them. Of course, when the Bills get wind of the plan, they want in.
The poster for Turning Green features the faces of Hutton, Nivola, and Meaney – all minor characters in a script that needed to be carried by someone conspicuously missing from the artwork – Donal Gallery. Sadly, the young Mr. Gallery is a black hole of a character, one who is neither funny nor emotionally resonant. There's simply never a reason to care about what happens to James, making his teenage adventures in Ireland uninteresting. Hutton is quite good in an unusually dark role, but it says something about the failure of Turning Green that I would have much rather spent time with the extended cast of the film than the lead. By the time the film gets to its ridiculously contrived finale, whether or not James got back to America or figured out his life in general was of no interest to me at all due to both an underwritten character and a lead actor who fails to bring anything to him. Turning Green has been on the shelf for so long that I'm afraid this forgettable film has gone bad.
Rating: ONE AND A HALF BONES
Reviewed by Brian Tallerico (MovieRetriever.com Film Critic)
Release Date: November 13th, 2009 in New York, November 20th, 2009 in Los Angels & Chicago
Starring: Donal Gallery, Timothy Hutton, Alessandro Nivola, and Colm Meaney
Directors: Michael Aimette and John G. Hofmann
Writers: Michael Aimette and John G. Hofmann