benefactor

Richard Gere is one of those movies stars who’s probably slightly undervalued as an actor because of his stardom. But for the past decade, aside from the occasional hokey romance or two, he’s been doing some of his most thoughtful work as a performer. He’s taken on smaller and more intimate projects, frequently playing some wonderfully unlikable and deeply human characters (see The Hoax or The Hunting Party, if you haven’t already). His next film, The Benefactor, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this year, and it was met with mostly positive reviews.

After the jump, watch the trailer for The Benefactor.

Gere stars as Franny, a rich fat cat riddled with guilt. Two of his old college friends have died in a car accident, and he feels responsible. Out of regret and maybe love, he wants to play a role in the life of their daughter, Olivia (Dakota Fanning). The young woman’s husband, played by Theo James (Divergent), is suspicious of Franny, wondering how he got all of his money and what his intentions are with Franny.

Here’s’ The Benefactor trailer (source: IMDB):

This trailer plays with tone and expectations well. The shot in the art museum of Gere and Fanning locking eyes is almost out of a heartstring-pulling family film, but what follows looks like a surprisingly dark movie. Gere tends to do his strongest work in these sorts of personal dramas. His performance in the deeply overlooked Unfaithful is maybe the best performance of his career.

Although this trailer plays up the mystery of The Benefactor, there’s one line I wish wasn’t in it. I won’t say which one, as I don’t want to draw attention to it, but it comes off as a potential spoiler for the relationship between Gere and Fanning’s character — and why he cares about her so much.

Here’s the official description from Tribeca:

Richard Gere delivers a bravura performance as the title character, a rich eccentric man who worms his way into the lives of a deceased friend’s young daughter (Dakota Fanning) and her new husband (Theo James). Writer-director Andrew Renzi’s narrative feature debut Franny is a warm and winsome story that explores the pangs of the past and reflects on what it is to be family.

Renzi displays the nuances of a seasoned storyteller, constructing an emotional labyrinth around an endearing and enduring Shakespearian character. Franny is a remarkable drama enlivened by incredible performances delivered by a versatile cast, bringing to life Renzi’s powerful cinematic vision.

Written and directed by Andrew RenziThe Benefactor opens in limited release and on VOD January 15th, 2016.

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