The Longest Week is the most Wes Anderson-y movie you’ll see that in no way, shape, or form has anything to do with Wes Anderson. From the opening scene to the last, you’ll be able to see the Anderson inspirations. There’s some Woody Allen thrown in here, too. I don’t think many people are going to accuse The Longest Week of being original. Its director, Peter Glanz, shows talent as an imitator. Now, if only he could have some of his own voice shine through.
Our lead is a wealthy man named Conrad Valmont (Jason Bateman), who at the start of our film loses his entire fortune. He’s done nothing with his 40 years on our planet, except live in luxury. His parents divorced and as a result he lost his money. I’m not quite sure how that works, but I’ll accept it. He heads into the city to crash with his best friend, Dylan (Billy Crudup). On the subway, he meets Beatruce (Olivia Wilde), who gives him her number unprompted. Turns out, though, that Dylan wants to be with Beatrice. What happens?
Well, Conrad isn’t a good person. He would tell you that to your face. So, he takes Beatrice and the two of them become an item. Yes, that quickly. That causes friction between Conrad and Dylan. Also, Conrad lies about having lost his wealth. He has to figure out ways to, you know, keep that lie afloat. And that’s our entire movie. It takes place over a week — the longest one ever, you’re assured — so it’s not like a lot can happen. But, man, does the film hope you think the changes in its characters matter.
It even self-assuredly makes sure you think that it matters, as right at the end, after our lead character is done recounting his tale, a critic questions exactly how profound the story was. Conrad replies that he thought it was great, and then gives a little wink to the camera (I might be making the wink up; there might have been a nod or a knowing glance, though). It’s supposed to be charming and reassuring, but it comes across more as self-important, pretentious, and narcissistic.
This happens more than once, by the way. There are constant nods to how stupid the narrative is, how meaningless all of its events are, and so on. The idea here being that, if you mention it, it’s okay to do it, even if it’s a problem. It’s an issue a lot of self-aware films have. The filmmakers think that if they make mention of a problem, they don’t have to fix it. They’ve addressed it and that’s enough. Except that’s false. It shows laziness. It proves that you don’t understand the issue at all, or at least can’t provide a solution to it.
It’s really difficult to care about anything that happens in this movie. The lead character, Conrad, is annoying and his arc is so tiny and insignificant — despite the film’s protests to the contrary — that you’ll find yourself asking “Why am I watching this?” as it plays out. I mean, it’s kind of funny, and occasionally charming, and the style makes you feel like you’re watching a Wes Anderson movie — which is a good thing — but you get past that and it’s just empty. Its plot is small and poor, and there are no emotions within it. You don’t feel anything while watching it. It is a failure.
These are good actors, too, but all they get to do is sit at tables and talk about how entitled they are. I kid — only a little — but it does feel that a very unbalanced amount of time is listening to rather well-off people whine about nothing much that matters. The film is supposed to be about Conrad growing up, at 40 years of age, but that only really happens at the end and the extent to which he changes is something we could debate all day.
The Longest Week isn’t a particularly dull film, but it provides you no reason to watch it. It consists primarily of rich people whining about insignificant problems and then claiming that, like, dude, they’re totally important. They’re not. The audience won’t care. There’s no story to be told and no character worth seeing in this movie. It’s a Wes Anderson knockoff, one that captures the style but not the emotion of Anderson’s films. Copy all the way or don’t bother.