When Lloyd Matthews sees a long lost friend with unfulfilled dreams die right before his eyes while stocking shelves at a drug store, he decides to get his own act together. So, he trades in his waiter’s name tag for a PI license and enters the adrenaline-charged world of the private dick.
‘Course, that mostly means cases like his current one in which Jane, (a suddenly everywhere Ellen “Show and Tell” Goldwasser) suspects her beatific husband of having an affair. Lloyd (writer Jim McManus dolled up to look like Dick York with a Ray Davies haircut) sets off in pursuit of Jane’s husband Peter, a too-good-to-be-true social worker, and finds out that, sure enough, the bastard’s cheating on her, uh, sorta.
Before the screening, McManus indicated the film was popular with European audiences and I see why. Despite Lloyd’s gloomy, brooding nature and the noirish overtones, this is a very funny film… but you gotta wait for it. Director Jack Perez lets us languish in these desperate, sordid lives for a long, slow while before he lets Lloyd and Jane’s twisted relationship evolve. When it does, the resulting twists and turns as he practically kidnaps her, then takes pity on Peter, a broken man starving himself out of grief, are as compelling as they are puzzling.
“The Big Empty” isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it weird having such a good time around such depressing people.