Posted November 5, 2018 by Chris Hick in Film Reviews

The Neighbour (2018) DVD Review

[Spolier Alert] When the film’s main character, Mike is kicked out of the family home, she accuses him of having a mid-life crisis. Whether the audience views this as a mid-life crisis or a crisis of boredom, lust or to genuinely to help out his attractive vulnerable neighbour is open to interpretation. Much of the publicity for The Neighbour (2018) has laboured that the film’s lead actor, William Fichtner is an unheralded character actor who here is given an interesting star turn. He has played plenty of ordinary guys for years, whether suburbanites, soldiers or bank managers. This is not a thriller of say the likes of Disturbia (2007), but a more realistic drama of familial tensions in suburbia. It would be fair to say that much of the publicity, as little as it is, has framed it as a thriller.

In the film, now released on 101 Films on DVD, Fichtner plays Mike, a pleasant of dull boob who works from home, is consciously middle-aged, middle-class and in a fairly dull, if realistically handled relationship to Lisa (Jean Louisa Kelly) who works in education. They live in a quiet Californian suburb where little seems to happen (or, it would seem, heard). One day, while Mike is pottering out the front of his house he notices new neighbours moving in and passes pleasantries with the young Jenna (Jessica McNamee), a clearly beautiful and nice woman who bears more than a passing resemblance to Angelica Jolie. Mike is shy, dull and nice. Her brash husband, Scott (Michael Rosenbaum) turns up, breaking the suburban quietude in his red Corvette. Scott is something of a tool and is immediately quite nauseating. As a courtesy Mike invites the newly wed couple over for a weekend bar-b-que as a welcome on behalf all of the neighbours. Lisa is not overly keen on this and even throughout is fairly dispassionate, giving little feeling either way about their new neighbours.

A short while after, once the couple have settled in, Mike overhears over the fence and from his bedroom office window Jenna lounging by the pool and tending to the garden. One day he overhears Scott getting abusive with Jenna and hears what he believes sounds like a smack. Mike has developed a respectful friendship and is clearly infatuated with Jenna. He tells her what he overheard and she is a mixture of embarrassed and grateful that she has someone to talk to who cares. They are both vulnerable people for one reason or another and end up kissing. Mike is now heading towards wrecking his marriage, his wife well aware of his infatuation with this younger neighbour, and a conflict with toolish Scott.

Director Aaron Harvey’s film avoids any temptation to go for pathos or into thriller mode and instead, rightly chooses a more genteel and realistic turn as a drama as we witness nice but dull Mike’s downfall. Yet, he does begin to experience life a bit more as he breaks away from mediocrity, as encouraged by his beer drinking buddy who feels somewhat like the devil in Mike’s head. The Neighbour feels small in its ambitions, but this is a fine example of there being nothing wrong with that.

There are no extras on the disc.

Chris Hick

Chris Hick