Patrick Stewart's Game Changing Role Is a "Match" for Success

By Scott Kurland
Film: Match
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Carla Gugino, and Matthew Lillard 
Rated R
Director: Stephen Belber

There are some actors you know what there performance is going to be like in a film. Johnny Depp will always be eccentric and weird. He’ll do that weird eye bulging shift from left to right. Jennifer Lawrence will always be a tortured beautiful soul, and Sir Anthony Hopkins will always intimidate you with his sharp wit and tongue. Oh, and Meryl Streep will always get an Oscar nomination. It doesn’t matter what the film is that lady is getting nominated. Yet, there’s some actors that surprise you in their roles. This week’s film “Match” stars Patrick Stewart as an aging Gay Ballet Dancer turned instructor. Yeah, talk about a game changer. This is my review of “Match”.
Patrick Stewart stars as Tobi a ballet instructor at Juilliard. Tobi’s life is lived in solitude and although it’s a lonely existence he’s quite happy and content with it. Tobi’s life is turned upside down when Mike (Matthew Lillard) and his wife Lisa (Carla Gugino) interview him for  Lisa’s dissertation. Yet, the more they inquiry of Tobi, the faster Tobi realizes that maybe they aren’t who they appear to be. Maybe Mike is in fact Tobi’s biological son trying to see if he and his estranged father are a genetic “Match”.
Patrick Stewart is a revelation as Tobi. He’s so eccentric and flamboyantly over the top, which is shocking coming from Captain Picard. Normally, you’d expect Stewart to be reserved and sophisticated like he’s been so many times before. As Tobi, Stewart dives head first into unfamiliar territory and comes out winning on the other side. I was shocked at how incredible Stewart was, I honestly thought this would be a role Sir Ian McKellan do before Stewart. Yet, the end results are so rewarding. You watch as Stewart delivers these brilliant monologues , and you’re in awe. I truly wish this was a more mainstream film because Stewart deserves an Oscar nomination for such a performance.
This film is based on Stephen Belber’s award nominated play also entitled “Match”. Belber is a gifted writer and director, mainly his writing is what he’s most known for. Belber’s style is raw and real, the conversation in the film are real world conversation. They’re not about solving world hunger or saving lives, it’s what normal people talk about. Sex, selfishness, forgiveness, anger,  and the list goes on. Belber never sugar coats these character. Every character has done something wrong. Lillard’s Mike has a temper that is dangerous and violent. Gugino’s Lisa allows her husband to be violent and abusive, and Tobi is selfish and self center. Yet, they’re not bad people, they’re just people.. Belber gets to the heart of their problem. They’re all scared, scared of life, the truth, and being put in situations they don’t want to take responsibility for. Belber has a distinct voice in all of his plays and films, and he uses that voice in a certain way. He’s not trying to change the world with “Match”, he’s not trying to make it a better place. He’s just adding to the world the only way he knows, storytelling. He does a terrific job for his sophomore feature.
“Match” is an entertaining and heartbreakingly original film. What I loved most about this film was the intimacy, this films feels like a stage play.It has a basic play like structure. The actors are shot from angles that feel like stage directions. The lighting is placed over head like on a stage, but it’s a film from beginning to end. Not a lot of theaters are getting “Match”, so IFC films cut a deal with OnDemand and Amazon, and “Match will be available next month from rental. However, if you get the chance to see this in a theater do it. It’s a breath of fresh air filled with unique characters, and a great cast to play them. “Match” is an excellent film and I highly recommend it. Do yourself a favor and see this film. You won’t be sorry, especially when you see Patrick Stewart’s game changing performance.

Review Grade: B+
scott kurlandComment