Holloman is a loner who works in a department store. He looks after an ailing mother, but otherwise has no-one in his life. He has become despondent about the state of his existence and is having suicidal fantasies. He has a gun and is about to use it on himself when he is diverted from his mission by the appearance of Lawrence.
Lawrence is a fellow worker at the store. He is a salesman who has won employee of the month twice. As he explains to Holloman, their boss says Lawrence has a future. There is something compelling and annoying about the man. Where Holloman is pessimistic to a fault, Lawrence is a complete optimist. Everything has a silver lining. There is no bad luck. Even when things are down, one will eventually be able to look up. Holloman has met his spiritual opposite, his reverse doppelganger and all of a sudden, he has a reason to live. There is something about this confident character that Holloman needs to understand. He has a great job, the faith of his employers, a beautiful girlfriend, other women he is having affairs with and not a care in the world. As he says, “I’m happy. I’m joyous.”
The salesman takes Holloman under his wing. He freely gives out advice, which proves to be a patchwork of half-baked thoughts and malapropisms. The more time Holloman spends with Lawrence, the more affronted he is by Lawrence’s idea that people have the lives they do because of destiny. And then one day, Lawrence’s luck begins to turn. And so does Holloman’s.
LAWRENCE AND HOLLOMAN is a Canadian film based on the play of the same name by award-winning playwright Morris Panych. Director Matthew Kowalchuk and his co-writer Daniel Arnold (who also plays Holloman) have adapted what was a two-hander into a fully-fledged feature. Despite the Odd Couple feel of the set up, Panych’s characters do not have a Neil Simonesque relationship. Holloman is envious of everything that Lawrence has. He thinks that if he had the same luck and advantages, then his life would have been a happier one. At a certain level, that he is barely aware of, he covets Lawrence’s essential self. This is where the comedy gets dark and twisted.
Ben Cotton does a fine job playing Lawrence. Daniel Arnold is also good in the more difficult sad-sack role of Holloman. Neither actor is particularly well known outside of North America. Perhaps the best-known member of the cast is Katharine Isabelle who played Ginger in the GINGER SNAPS trilogy. Here she plays Zooey, an old high school friend of Lawrence’s.
This is a black comedy that veers into absurdism as it progresses. The story asks us to consider why some lives seem fortunate and others are cursed. A certain amount of punishment is meted out in order to make that point, so audience members who like their laughs light and easy might find this movie tough going. If however, you find humor in the darkness and like a misanthropic take on humanity, then you will appreciate the pains taken by Kowlachuk and company to get us to laugh at this deeply flawed duo.
LAWRENCE AND HOLLWMAN runs for 95 minutes. I rated it 2.5/5
This review can also be found at AccessReel.com. It was originally posted on 7th July 2014.