The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

Posted by schnolis on April 24th, 2009 filed in Reviews

THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGHArt Bechstein (Jon Foster) just graduated, with honors, from College. His father Joe (Nick Nolte), a very connected man, arranged a job for him in Baltimore. Everything is in its proper place for Art to lead a proper life. Except, of course, Art.

To ease off himself a little bit, Art takes a job working at a Book Barn for minimum wage. His manager takes a liking to him, though, and they quickly embark on a very intimate relationship. Then he meets up with a college roommate who takes him to a party, where all the rigid and respectable plans begin to unravel. He meets a beautiful girl Jane (Sienna Miller) with whom he has a nice conversation. Until her boyfriend accosts him at work, then abducts him. They head to an abandoned factory where the two actually become friends.

Cleveland (Peter Skarsgaard) takes a liking to Art, and vice-versa. Art is quiet, thoughtful, and reserved, while Cleveland is gregarious, energetic, and free-spirited. The summer then proceeds to take many odd twists for everyone. Art becomes more attached to Jane and Cleveland, Jane gets accepted into a music school in San Francisco, Art’s now ex-girlfriend starts sending her new boyfriend to harass him. Cleveland is in trouble with some gangsters. The tension between all is made bearable by the attraction they feel for each other. The summer must come to an end, though, and it’s not an especially happy one for these friends. Art begins to make choices for himself, though, and begins to live his life. It might not go perfectly, but at least he’s got a chance. And isn’t that what we all at least hope for?

What I liked: The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, based on a book by Michael Chabon, is an ambitious movie. It creates very involved characters with complex longing and passions. It takes a complicated view of friendship and sexuality, which I’m hoping are trademarks of Chabon. Peter Skarsgaard really delivered in his role.

What I disliked: There are so many great stories that the movie couldn’t really resolve many of them, and ended too soon. I don’t think it explored the issues enough, and settled superficially. I think if done well this could have been an amazing movie, instead of just a pretty good one.

Rating: 7 of 10

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