The Benefactor (2015)
A philanthropist meddles in the lives of newly-married couples in an attempt to relive his past.
“Did you buy my house ?
I bought it for the three of you.
I’ve never been a big fan of Richard Gere. I always associate him with ordinary films of the genre drama and comedy, with a lick of romance. Gere is also perfect for such films. A charismatic person with the right looks. Worthy son-in-law material and someone who made many women’s hearts beat faster in those days. Since “Pretty Woman“, a film with Gere was for me a film to avoid. Although I surely want to give “The Mothman Prophecies” a chance. And despite his old age, this 67 year-old former gigolo still looks surprisingly frivolous and attractive. Perhaps now you should look for his admirers among the over-60s.
I came across “The benefactor” by chance and it didn’t look like a romantic comedy to me. Well, it’s far from being comical. It shows the agony of the eccentric philanthropist Franny who’s suffering from remorse and regret. A guilt this millionaire carries from the time that he’s involved in a car accident along with a befriended couple Bobby (Dylan Baker) and Mia (Cheryl Hines). Whether he’s the cause or not is not really clear. Daughter Olivia (Dakota Fanning), with whom the bachelor Franny has a good bond, turns his back on him.
Five years later, the charming, “dashing through life” multimillionaire who realized energetic plans, has changed into an introverted hermit who spends his days making morphine cocktails. A haggard loner with an appearance of Gandalf the White. A neglected Santa Claus with a thick beard and a wild hairdo. A caveman living in his luxurious cave. And then Olivia returns. Contacting him with the message that she’ll be returning as a newly wed, pregnant woman. Franny gets his act together and from that moment on he only has one plan. And that plan is to make this couple’s life as easy as possible and support them with his fortune.
To be honest, I think the acting performance of Richard Gere in this film was sublime. An overwhelming, charismatic character who demands all the attention during the whole movie. In such a fantastic way that the parts of Dakota Fanning and Theo James, the husband of Olivia, almost completely fade into the background. Gere shows a character that sways from one mood into another. From a flamboyant, enthusiastic founder of a children’s hospital to a pitiful heap of misery. And then resurrecting again as a benefactor. Enthusiastically but with a tormented mind. At times I couldn’t believe this was really Richard Gere. Fanning‘s character was reduced to a piece of scenery that served as the initiator of Franny’s behavior. The same applies to Theo James. Although he also pleasantly surprised me.
The acting looks respectable. What about the story itself? Well, that’s something else. First, it is terribly boring and dead simple. The whole story (not the psychological situation) can easily be summarized in a few concise sentences. In other words, nothing much happens. What story were they actually trying to tell? The tragedy of lost friends and a painful rehabilitation? A demonstration of excessive generosity and intrusiveness? The physical and mental deterioration because of an addiction? All of that was in it, but the character study dominated. Also certain questions remained unanswered. Was it really Franny’s fault? Where did his fortune come from? And isn’t it so that rich people can buy whatever they want? What I do know is that I’ll give ‘Time out of mind“a chance.