Well-built, but hollow
REVIEW Writer-director Matt Tauber has clearly taken his debut movie's title to heart. Each streamlined scene has been carefully laid out to maximize character and plot development, seemingly creating the beginnings of a rich, thoughtful film. The strong cast — led by Anthony LaPaglia, Isabella Rossellini, and Viola Davis — provides ample reason to remain hopeful. Tauber, with playwright and coscreenwriter David Greig, gives us a movie full of multifaceted characters, but as the plot progresses, these characters seem increasingly stereotypical and each facet feels calculated. LaPaglia plays Leo, a successful architect unaware of the world crumbling around him: his wife (Rossellini) is bored and depressed; his son (Sebastian Stan) questions his cozy, straitlaced upbringing; and his blossoming teenage daughter (Hayden Panettiere) sure wants some male attention. Elsewhere, a low-income housing complex of Leo's design deteriorates, and a resident (Davis) works to tear it down. Tauber has the makings of a talented designer, but The Architect needs a less hollow structure.
THE ARCHITECT Opens Fri/8. Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California, SF. See movie clock at www.sfbg.com . www.landmarktheatres.com , www.magpictures.com