Review: Al Pacino and Holly Hunter unlock the tenderness of ‘Manglehorn’

Al Pacino and Holly Hunter in David Gordon Green's movie "Mangelhorn."

Al Pacino and Holly Hunter in David Gordon Green’s movie “Mangelhorn.”

(Ryan Green / IFC Films)

Al Pacino follows up his recent, nicely tuned turn in “Danny Collins” with another sensitively rooted performance, playing a lonely locksmith with a tamper-proof heart in director David Gordon Green’s “Manglehorn.”

In the tenderly observed character study, Pacino’s A.J. Manglehorn is a small-town Texas business proprietor living in a cramped, neglected house with his constipated cat.

Given to fits of rage, he’s too fixated on the long-lost love of his life to demonstrate any feelings for those who currently care about him, like his semi-estranged son (Chris Messina) and a sweet, solitary bank teller (affectingly played by Holly Hunter).

There’s a lovely, aching understatement to the acting (something that can’t always be said of Pacino’s oeuvre), while Green, perhaps best known for the stoner comedy “Pineapple Express,” imbues Paul Logan’s script with idiosyncratic imagery that runs the gamut from a cluster of bees nesting beneath a mailbox to graphic veterinary surgery sequences.


Though occasionally distracting, the quirky visual poetry eventually proceeds to work its magic, paving the way for an unexpected final act that cracks open a long-shuttered door on the life of a man who was, in his own words, “losing hope in tomorrow.”



MPAA rating: PG-13 on appeal for sexual content, language, accident and surgery images.

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes.

Playing: Sundance Sunset, Los Angeles.