The Architect (2006)

Genre(s): Drama
Magnolia || R - 82 minutes - $29.98 || December 5, 2006
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2007-01-04


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Matt Tauber
Writer(s): Matt Tauber, David Greig
Cast: Anthony LaPaglia, Viola Davis, Isabella Rossellini, Hayden Panettiere, Sebastian Stan


Theatrical Release Date: December 1, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director's Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • "Higher Definition" Featurette


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

The Architect is director Matt Tauber's first feature length film. The film is actually a loose adaptation of a play with the same name and written by the co-writer of the film, David Greig. The film has a simple premise that consists of complex issues. Anthony LaPaglia stars as Leo, an architect who created housing projects in Chicago that have fall victim to poor maintenance and gang violence. Viola Davis stars as Tonya, a tenant of one of those projects who refuses to live in such harsh conditions. The film deals with several topics such as race, young adults discovering themselves, as well as issues of family and class. The film deals with the common theme of a man who creates homes for less fortunate families but he himself is destroying his own family by not paying enough attention to them.

While the small independent film (it was made under $1 million and shot in 20 days) was able to attract some well known actors like Anthony LaPaglia, Isabella Rossellini and up and coming actress Viola Davis, it still was not enough to save the film. The performances from the entire cast are all fantastic. All the young actors do a great job with what they are given but ultimately, the film doesn't fully develop some of the ideas it touches upon. I think the main fault of the film is that it tries to cover way too many characters in such a short time (the film is only about 75 minutes). I thought Tauber should have picked two or three characters and focused/developed those characters and let the other characters act as supporting or minor characters. Instead, Tauber tries to make 7 or 8 characters come to the forefront and it is impossible to develop all of them in such a short running time.

Nevertheless, the film does bring up some interesting topics regarding family, race and class among the inner city against the suburbs. That being said, this was Tauber's first feature film and his inexperience is what likely led to some of the problems the film had. As I mentioned before, all the performances are very strong, especially by Viola Davis. She brings a great deal of strength and intensity to her character that is believable. Perhaps more time to shoot could have made the film better? Who knows but definitely a stronger script and more focus would have helped the film greatly. All the same, it was an admirable film for first time director Matt Tauber but ultimately the film falls short.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Director Commentary - The commentary from Tauber is full of great detail but at times, too much detail. Tauber tries to tell the viewer too much information at once and at times has 2 or 3 stories going at the same time. He definitely shows us that it is his first commentary and at times acts as if it will be his last. In any case, Tauber lets is know about how he got involved as well discussing the trials and tribulations of most first time directors.

Deleted Scenes - The DVD also contains 8 deleted scenes that runs about 9 minutes total. Unfortunately, none of the deleted scenes really add anything to the film. Most of them are very short or are extended scenes we already see in the film. Tauber provides a commentary on why he decided against having those scenes in the film.

Making of The Architect - This feature is definitely the best on the DVD. It runs about 27 minutes and contains interviews with Anthony LaPaglia, Viola Davis and director Matt Tauber. LaPaglia discusses the differences and similarities between making a film and being on a television show. Davis discusses how she found the intensity her character needed in the film from her own mother and finally, Tauber discusses how he discovered the story and what changes he thought were needed in the film adaptation versus the play.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The audio and video quality on the DVD were both solid but nothing spectacular. That is to be expected with such a low budget film that was shot in such a short amount of time. It is much more difficult to find the "perfect" looking shots or angles when you have such a small amount of time and money to make a film. The film is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and has audio tracks available in English (Dolby Digital 5.1) and English (Dolby Digital 2.0) with optional subtitles in Spanish.



.::OVERALL::.

Overall, The Architect itself brings up interesting topics but ultimately the strong performances are not enough to save the poor character development of the characters. The DVD package is solid but I wouldn't run out to buy it. It's worth seeing for Viola Davis alone but I'd wait for cable rather than spending money on a rental. That being said, I still look forward to seeing what director Matt Tauber does in the future.