REVIEW: The Leisure Class (2015)

HBO Films - Release Poster - The Leisure Class
HBO Films – Release Poster – The Leisure Class

The following is a review of Project Greenlight’s ‘The Leisure Class’, an HBO film by Jason Mann.

Project Greenlight is an HBO documentary show about the process of filmmaking, in which its producers grant a huge opportunity to a writer or director. Jason Mann won the 2015 season of Project Greenlight as a director, and he even got to film his own script with a budget of $3 million. By watching the documentary show we were led to believe that every thing was wrong from the get-go. While it does seem like the show was presented more as a reality program than a documentary show, the final product is as problematic as the production processes presented in Project Greenlight.

The Leisure Class follows Charles Devonshire (played by Ed Weeks) who is set to be married to Fiona Langston (played Bridget Regan), the daughter of a Senator (played by Bruce Davison). Both Charles and the Langston family have a lot of hidden secrets, and these secrets are brought to the forefront when Charles’ past comes back to haunt him. Meet Leonard (played by Tom Bell). Leonard is Charles’ wacky brother, but the Langstons know nothing about him. After Charles turns his brother away and presents him as nothing more than an old friend named Dean, Leonard makes a conscious decision to outstay his welcome.

The Leisure Class is, essentially, a dark dramedy, and there are parts of the film that I really liked – there was a lot of potential in the story itself. But before the film really has a chance to grab you, you are blindsided by these very obvious problems that – if you saw this season of Project Greenlight – were evident during production.

The lighting is off during the first act, which is to say that you have no sense of time at all. For example, you go from daylight to gloom during the pre-wedding dinner at the blink of an eye. Similarly, the pacing of the first two acts is completely off. The film is cut to rush through essential arguments between the soon-to-be wed, and rushes forward to what is frankly an unimpressive stunt. We are left with two messy acts and a less-than-pleasing conclusion.

Like I said, there was potential in the story – and I am certain that Jason Mann had a vision – but the final product is fairly problematic. The only things that I thorougly enjoyed were the performances given by Tom Bell and Ed Weeks – if this film was without their chemistry and Leonard’s quirky humor, then it would have been an absolute disaster.

Final Score: 4.7 out of 10 – In spite of two pleasing performances from Tom Bell and Ed Weeks, Project Greenlight‘s 2015 film is problematic from the outset and never really works.

I’m Jeffrey Rex

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