Shock, 97 Minutes (M)
Director Megan Griffiths’ wry, under-the-radar character study is built upon lovely performances from Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church as one of those unlikely odd-couple movie pairings that works like a comedic charm.
Ellie Klug (Collette) is a rock journo working for the fictional mag Stax whose status as the last girlfriend of long-missing and presumed-dead music legend Matthew Smith leads her editor Giles (amusing Oliver Platt) to assign her the job of following rumours that Smith didn’t commit suicide and is actually alive somewhere out there. While being romantically pursued by up-and-coming muso Lucas Stone (Ryan Eggold), Ellie also runs into another sort-of-ex, the rich and eccentric Charlie (Church), and the two set off on a road trip, to not only hopefully find Matthew, but so that Ellie can quietly put that chapter of her life to rest. And as Charlie fancies himself a budding documentary filmmaker, the pair is soon filming at the spots where Ellie and Matthew first met, first kissed and so forth, with Ellie telling far more to the camera than she ever expected.
Although other players turn up in bits (including no less than executive producer Joanne Woodward as the voice of Ellie’s landlady, which accounts for the sweet end-credits mention of the late great Paul Newman), this is all about Toni and Thomas, and they’re fabulous, with her offering a wonderfully restrained and emotional turn as a boozy rock chick who seriously needs to face her past and him a winningly funny foil and demonstrating again that he’s one of the most amiably oddball character actors around. And lucky us.