Based on the book and play of the same name, RUBEN GUTHRIE is a film that follows the journey of this ad master, ladies’ man and all-around superstar – who breaks his arm being a blind, drunk hooligan after winning his fourth major ad award of the year. Following all of that? Ruben’s world comes to a crashing end when his fiancée leaves him and he loses his “mojo”.
The film really does root itself deeply in the theatrical version from which it’s adapted, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, the performances become a little larger on screen as the cast projects loudly. In saying that, from time to time the movie does away with a lot of its comedy through these performances as a few of the comedic beats fall flat but allow for more dramatic headspace for the actors to play with and that’s where the film does its best work.
However, it does feel like the film doesn’t give enough breathing room to the most important people or group – the understated AA meetings – which is where the film finds really, genuine, excellent moments. There might be quite a bit of criticism but it’s really not a badly made film. It nicely shows off Sydney and is shot cleanly and tightly with director Brendan Cowell’s script presenting some slick dialogue, all brought to life by a really strong performance from Patrick Brammall showcasing a true struggle against the allure of his addiction.
There a case of being mixed about this one, because it does have a clear message which is made murky through a repetitious showing of characters that are trying to get Ruben “back to normal” which becomes something that happens so often, you may find yourself wondering when the arc is going to take the next step. Coming out of the theatre, you feel that Cowell and Brammall tried their utmost to squeeze every ounce of dramatic energy they could muster and the resulting product is sometimes frustrating but executed effectively.