Easy Comedy from Outstanding Actors
The picture, "The Maiden Heist," is an easy comedy; a throwback to the old days when the situation dictated the comedy, and the more unique the situation; the broader the comedy. What makes this comedy so unique is the premise that lower middleclass security guards at a museum can understand and appreciate art.
These three security guards: Christopher Walken, Roger Barlow, William H. Macy, George McLendon and Morgan Freeman as Charles, are connected by not only their occupations, but a profound love that each man has for one work of art. All three security guards live somewhat unremarkable lives except for their devoted appreciation of these distinct works of art. The titular Lonely Maiden is an oil painting of a lovely maiden by the seashore that has enthralled Roger, Charles is captivated by an oil painting of an Italian hand maiden, and William H. Macy is so taken by the all natural form of a statue of a warrior that he strips nude in front of the statue and strikes his accompanying pose.
When these three men discover that their museum, filmed at the Worchester Art Museum in Massachusetts, will ship their entire collection to a new art museum in Denmark, they conspire to hatch a plan keep these cherished works close. The plan: plan a heist of these works by replacing them in transit with smart reproductions, and then lay low and just savor these works for all of their remaining days.
These lowly security guards, as ill prepared as they are for their impromptu criminal activity, they are equally committed to succeed at their endeavor. Therein lies the humor: To watch these totally naive new criminals attempt the sophisticated premeditated theft of art, as it precariously unfolds, is what this 90 minute film is all about.
Furthermore, it is the brilliant acting abilities of these consummate actors muddling toward its predictable conclusion. William H Macy is the fervent former Marine, who spearheads the project, with the more elderly Christopher Walken and Morgan Freeman the anchors lending realistic perspective to their preposterous endeavor. Morgan Freeman is such a good actor, with his purring voice a patient counterweight to Walken's jerky, staccato diction. In fact, this picture would not as enjoyable without the chemistry of these fine actors.
It's not that this film has a poor narrative, it's just not a compelling one without these great actors, including Marcia Gay Harden, in a small role as Roger's wife. If one is to fully appreciate this film, I believe one must appreciate the visual arts as these three partners in heist are committed to do, and in that suspension of disbelief, the film becomes believable and therefore, the comedy works.
Art truly is for all the people, irrespective of their position in life, and Director Peter Hewitt's film of a Michael LeSieur screenplay drives that point home. In this respect the film is a resounding success.
Rated PG13. Released on DVD October 24, 2009.
This post appears courtesy of our sister site, Beaufort County NOW, with their expressed permission.