Changing Lanes’ is another attempt to create a Hollywood film using the sensibilities of a Hollywood film. It’s essentially a remake of a Tom and Jerry cartoon with human beings and the ins and outs of their ‘real’ lives. The cat is Ben Affleck, a lawyer who is slowly understanding the dodgy ethics perpetrated by his other partners and whether he can still stay true to himself within that world. The mouse of the story, Sam Jackson is a recovering alcoholic and telesales worker who finds his life slowly slipping away, partly because of his atrocious temper which comes forth whenever he feels like he’s doing the right thing.

In a strong, well-structured script, unlike a real cat and mouse caper, there isn’t an actually a villain or hero. These are both men on the edge, whose sense of right and wrong slips away as the day progresses. Both have much to lose but in different ways – and it’s interesting that when Jackson strikes against the lawyer its in material ways; when Affleck hits the telesales advisor at the roots of his life.

It’s the performances that lift this film. Affleck gives his best work since ‘Chasing Amy’ – in a part which could have been whitewashed with sleaze, he comes out looking all the more human. He should be the bad guy but we find ourselves wondering if our choices wouldn’t be too dissimilar given the circumstances. Jackson again proves himself to be an actor of massive range. It’s the first time we’ve seen this kind of character from him in a so-called mainstream film (although its similar to the low key display found in ‘The Red Violin’), and it’ll be interesting to see how things are when the Oscars come around again.

Roger Mitchell has always struck me as a very generic director – like Michael Apted he doesn’t have a particular style and in fact he often borrows from someone else. This has a very faux-Soderbergh feel to it, especially in the opening titles and the use of hand held cameras throughout. But I’m not criticizing. I’ve had enough of glossy films which spend all their time just looking perfect at the expense of the plot. Imagine how vacuous this thing might have been in the hands of Michael Bay, for example.

I’ve heard the ending being criticized somewhat. Yes it’s uplifting and hopeful, but not unrealistic and if things had ended unresolved, in this case I would have been dissatisfied. So another Hollywood film with brains. It’s almost like its the seventies again ...

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