Lay the Favourite 賭城風雲 (2012) – USA

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 7th January 2013
Released on DVD

Starring: Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rebecca Hall, Joshua Jackson, Vince Vaughn, Laura Prepon, John Carroll
Directed by: Stephen Frears

“Lay the Favourite” is the perfect example of how not to direct a movie. The film suffers from poor editing, non-existence pacing, unprofessional lighting and some questionable and mixed acting display from an otherwise A-list casting composing of Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta Jones, Vince Vanghan and Rebecca Hall. This is a film that the director of “The Queen” (Stephen Frears) is likely to forget and possibly erase from his filmography.

I am not sure how a film can be so bad. “Lay the Favourite” is not just bad, but it possess all the elements that we see in C-grade movie disguised with a lustre of A-list Hollywood stars turning up for a simple pay check and nothing more. That’s probably not doing justice to the underrated Rebecca Hall (“The Town”) who in spite of the rest of the lacklustre cast, manages to hold the movie together, even if just making it barely watchable. Sometimes, films that doesn’t get a cinematic release goes on to become a little cult classic, but if I am a betting man, this film is more likely to enter the trash bin than a collector’s DVD shelf.

Rebecca Hall headlines this gambling memoir of the same name by Beth Raymer and tries hard in a film that clearly nobody truly cares about. Hall has shown enough potential in gritty and edgy roles like “The Town” and “Frost/Nixon”, but she is unable to keep audience interested, nor does the script allow her to be. Despite this, Hall remains heads and shoulders above the rest of her most famous counterparts. I am not sure what to make of Bruce Willis’s latter career, apart from his “Die Hard” roles, he have fallen off the radar by appearing in C-graded films and collecting paychecks. In this film, he simply smirk, swears and manages to deliver the corniest of lines in the most cheesy manner. Likewise, Catherine Zeta Jones gives her worst ever performance in a industrious career. In fact, Zeta Jones got stern competition for this year’s Razzies Awards through an absolutely annoying extended cameo from the usually dependable Vince Vaughn. Perhaps John Carroll (“Crazy Stupid Love”) who plays a degenerated gambler shines through in his usual underrated flair.

Nonetheless, it must be admitted that the film ends better than it starts and the final minutes provides the film with some tighter editing, better dialogue and probably leaps and bounds better than the entire film itself. I am still not sure, how this film can possibly leave the editing room and like an unfinished product, the film lacks a core, a focus, interesting characters and for majority of the film, absolutely nobody seems to care about what is actually happening.

All in all, “Lay the Favourite” is really a bad film and apart from a couple of minutes near the end, the film is a truly forgettable affair. Enough said. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 2/10

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