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Reviewed by Wilson Morales
Have you ever experienced “the day from hell”? A day that starts off miserable and stays that way all day until it drives you to do things unimaginable. Try blaming the cause of your pain on one person and exacting revenge to alleviate the headache/heartache. In “Changing Lanes”, the characters played by Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson do a convincing job of trying to destroy one another that in the end their morality is questioned. If marketed properly, this small melodrama may stay the distance if others don’t brush it off as a “cat and mouse game”.
As the day begins, insuranceman Doyle Gipson (Jackson) is ready to buy a house for his two young boys. He has a look of nervousness as he has no idea how bad his day will be. Leaving his law firm, attorney Gavin Banek (Affleck) is prepared to go to court to close the deal on a trust and estate case. His bosses, who include his father-in-law, await his return. Before you know it, while on the highway, both men collide with their cars. A fender-bender leaves Doyle without a vehicle to drive, and Gavin has no time to over the particulars of exchanging information (i.e. insurance, name, etc). He says to Doyle, “Better luck next time”. Doyle was also on his way to court. He has a custody hearing with his estranged wife Valerie (Gipson), who suing for sole custody of the boys and the right to move away. Doyle is a recovering alcoholic. As Gavin drives away, he leaves behind a vital piece of file important to his case. By the time Doyle arrives late to court, the judge has made his decision and it’s not good for Doyle. As for Gavin, his case takes a turn for the worse as his missing papers could signal the end of his career. Feeling empty and blaming the other, both men go after each other that brings them to a level of self -destruction that also affects those around them. One is struggling not to hit rock bottom again and go back to the bottle, while the other faces the loss of income, freedom, and self-respect. Being right and justified is no longer an issue; facing one’s own demons comes to play.
“Changing Lanes” offers a new spin on right and wrong issues, as morality becomes the center of attention. Both men are presented with a justified reason for their actions, although violent to some extremes. In a case of rich man, poor man, neither wants to lose what they have. The writing presents both men to be smart but making poor decisions. Both Affleck and Jackson give memorable performances. The film is highly entertaining, if not logically and credible considering the positions both men hold. Imagining a lawyer leaving the scene of his own car crash against an insuranceman whom won’t file a report. Director Roger Michell makes his American debut with a story some people can probably relate to when they have to blame someone for the bad day they’re having. How far we would go to get revenge is probably left in our dreams, or in the movies.
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