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‘Windfall’ review: Actors shine in class war caper

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In the opening minutes of twisted heist drama Windfall, an unnamed burglar, played by Jason Segel (credited “Nobody”), idly wanders through an empty vacation home in a scenic California mountain setting. He lives his dream, undisturbed and unhurried, sniffing through the drawers and closets of the fabulously rich and taking what he wants.

Then, unexpectedly, the owners of the property arrive. Played by Jesse Plemons and Lily Collins (credited as “CEO” and “Wife” in the credits), the pair are initially terrified and eager to scare off the intruder by sending him off with a few thousand dollars in his pocket. But when this nobody comes back – worried he’s been identified by their security cameras – the CEO and his wife play with him, promising him more money if he stays long enough to explain why he’s targeted them.

Nobody is directed by Charlie McDowell, who also wrote the story, starring Justin Lader, Andrew Kevin Walker and his three leads (who are all also producers on the film). Although the story takes place almost entirely in and around this one house, the cast impressively fills the space, making the film feel fuller. Also helpful for creating an unsettling tone: an alternately haunting and dissonant orchestral score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans (best known for their work on the TV series Ozark).

McDowell and co fiddle around a bit when it comes to plots — something that, to be honest, is pretty important when it comes to movies about crime and capers. After the gripping initial setup, a big surprise remains. Otherwise, this story is more about digging into these characters’ pasts than what they’re doing in the present. There’s a lot of chatter and little action.

But Windfall is consistently a showcase for top-notch actors. Segel delivers another of his convincingly subdued takes on a cautious tribulation, constantly on the lookout for what’s going to go wrong next. Plemons explores the darker dimensions of a wily plutocrat unwilling to give anything to anyone he feels doesn’t deserve. And Collins delivers one of her best performances as a woman begins to realize she might be able to use this intense standoff to her advantage.

Even as the narrative falters, McDowell and cinematographer Isiah Donté Lee can still snap more footage of the amazing property, which looks like luxury embodied and is beyond the reach of ordinary people. At its core, Windfall is about the ever-widening line between the haves and the have-nots and how difficult it is for even a determined nobody to cross it.

‘windfall’

Rated: R, for continuous speech and some violence

Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes

Play: Available March 18 on Netflix

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-03-18/review-heist-drama-is-an-actors-windfall-for-jason-segel-jesse-plemons-lily-collins ‘Windfall’ review: Actors shine in class war caper

Caroline Bleakley

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