Clutching a fluffy white cat and memories of the woman he loved and lost, Angelo Jacques Manglehorn is the kind of sad-sack gent whom actors with ham in their hearts would head-butt each other to play.

Al Pacino (who else?!) won the bout, if there was one, and furrows his brow in epic woebegoneness in David Gordon Green's thick-as-sap character study, Manglehorn. Set in a small town in Texas and in the rueful echo chambers of Manglehorn's mind (lots of voice-over letters to Clara, his long-gone muse), the movie offers a portrait of a lonely, angry, more-than-a-tad-creepy locksmith. He shuffles around, replacing busted lightbulbs and looking in his mailbox for an answer to his years' worth of unanswered epistles. There's nothing in there except a hornet's nest - a stinging metaphor if ever there was one.

Pacino's Manglehorn is even less likable than Pacino's Danny Collins, the rock star with the three-quarters-life crisis he played in the movie that opened earlier this year. In both, he's the father long estranged from his son (Bobby Cannavale in Danny Collins, Chris Messina in Manglehorn), and the resentment, regret, and reprimands are interchangeably painful and predictable.

If Manglehorn is to be remembered at all, it shall be for the excruciating first date that its title character goes on with a chirpy bank clerk he has long been chatting up. Her name is Dawn, and she is played by Holly Hunter with an aptly sunny disposition - and a look of utter horror and humiliation when old Manglehorn reveals how desperately he is stuck in some crevice of his past. Don't ask.

Manglehorn ** (Out of four stars)


Directed by David Gordon Green. With Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Harmony Korine, Chris Messina. Distributed by IFC Films.

Running time: 1 hour, 37 mins.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (profanity, adult themes).

Playing at: PFS at the Roxy.EndText