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Nobel Son

A precious, hyperkinetic mess
By PEG ALOI  |  December 5, 2008
1.5 1.5 Stars

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On its surface, this quirky thriller from Randall Miller (whose Bottle Shock earlier this year was charming) has indie-style appeal, with Alan Rickman in a delicious role as a gluttonous, philandering, narcissistic physics professor whose Nobel Prize win is deflated by the kidnapping of his rebellious philosophy-major son (Bryan Greenberg).

The kidnapper (up-and-comer Shawn Hatosy) is soon revealed to be Rickman's illegitimate progeny, a physics whiz and self-proclaimed autodidact who may be in league with Eliza Dushku's bohemian femme fatale. Then there's Mary Steenburgen as Rickman's long-suffering wife (a forensics specialist), Bill Pullman as an inept detective, and Danny DeVito as a gardener with OCD.

But Miller and co-writer Jody Savin trot out every clever plot twist and unlikely mind-fuck device seen in Hollywood in the past decade, and the result is a precious, hyperkinetic mess of a film whose promising elements of humor, irony, and misanthropy get lost amid the indulgent narrative trickery.

102 minutes | Boston Common + Fenway + Fresh Pond + Chestnut Hill + Suburbs

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