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Review: 'An Ordinary Man' is anything but ordinary

Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 2:50 PM Central

by John Couture

Allow me to introduce you to Hera Hilmar. She might not be a household name yet, but if Peter Jackson has anything to say about it, she will be the next hot big thing in Hollywood come Christmas.

Hera is an Icelandic actress (think Bjork, but less bizarre) that is set to blow up on the big screen in Mortal Engines, but you can be among the first to discover her by checking out this week's An Ordinary Man. Trust me, after seeing her in this film, my interest level in Mortal Engines went through the roof, and that's saying something given she has to match wits with venerable Ben Kingsley in every one of her scenes.

Sir Ben plays an infamous war criminal who is shuttled from flophouse to flophouse to escape arrest. Hera plays a maid who becomes the former general's only connection to the real world. The two share a special bond and give way to an interesting character study.

After reading about the film and seeing the trailer, I was really expecting the film to take the route of brow-beating the war criminal into submission for his past transgressions, but the film sort of puts all of that onto the back burner. As the title implies, Ben Kingsley's character is just trying to be An Ordinary Man. Of course, it's not always possible to simply avoid our past.

The film serves as an almost study into Stockholm syndrome without all the trappings. Director-writer Brad Silberling is more interested in the clash of the characters perspectives as it relates to their age than any romantic notions. The General stops short of trying to convince her that his actions were justified and thankfully that prevents the audience from having to also weigh his moral ambiguities. But, it is clear that a mutual appreciation develops between the two that borders on intimacy.

Whether it is the maid shaving the General with a straight-edge razor, or the General defusing a gun situation, it is clear that they both trust each other with their lives. The only way that it works is through the impressive performances turned in by Kingsley and Hilmar.

The pair certainly elevates the film to a level greater than the script and for that, we are appreciative. It's easy to see how this film could have been an absolute abomination of navel-gazing, but instead, it's an interesting character study and a performance from Hera Hilmar that makes you stand up and take notice.

An Ordinary Man is now avaiable on DVD.