Going All the Way [1997]

The Dan Wakefield novel upon which this film was based has been hailed by critics as another Catcher in the Rye, but you wouldn't know that from this unenlightening adaptation. Jeremy Davies (Saving Private Ryan) plays a superneurotic, Korean War veteran who develops an unlikely friendship with another, Neal Cassady-like vet (Ben Affleck) as well as a taste in art, New York City, and college girls. The trouble with the film is that it refuses to yield important information about its central figure. Davies's character has some kind of undefined problem with his mother, religion, ambition, masturbation, and much else, but without access to his internal dialogue, we only see him as a twitchy insect for whom regular sex with a beautiful girlfriend inexplicably does nothing for his ego. Don't blame Davies: he does this nerve-damaged bit all the time, and in the hands of a good director his performances are controlled and economical (see Spanking the Monkey). However, his director on Going All the Way--Mark Pellington--has no idea of how to shape the actor's abilities. --Tom Keogh

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