Trophy wife, Lux (Eliza Coupe), and her stepson George (Chris Baker) slink onto their balconies at the beginning of The Estate to share their respective woes. Living in luxury, the two are “penniless” and seething with rage that their husband/father Marcello (Eric Roberts) simply doesn’t measure up in various departments, financial support notwithstanding. Let’s not forget that Marcello is a less-than-personable guy and far from likable. Director James Kapner takes star and Baker’s script of familial deceit, carnal fluidity, and smug entitlement to create a catty farce of murderous proportions.
Enter Joe (Greg Finley). He’s a hunk with an oddly sexy scar on his right brow. He is happy to fulfill any physical needs that the shallow Lux and George may have and then some. It isn’t until the two mansion-dwellers are chatting about how much they hate Marcello that Joe flippantly offers to kill Marcello. A world of financial possibilities presents itself. Lux would be the widow, George the heir to a fortune, and Joe would be there to collect the scraps. The plan is laid, the trap is set, and Marcello returns home to check on things and the hijinks ensue.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Baker’s script with its nods to farce as well as the classic whodunnit. Detective Ellison (Rif Hutton) arrives on the scene to investigate suspicious activities while office paralegal Mary (Heather Matarazzo) decides to share news of another heir with Lux and George. Suffice it to say that you never really know what is going on, nor can you predict where any of this will land. The pursuit of riches, vanity, and notoriety drive two normal people to extremes in a hilarious comedy of desperation.
I think that the marriage of director James Kapner and star/screenwriter Chris Baker is at the center of this film’s success. Baker delivers a nasty sensibility along with a catty follow-through. Kapner packages the writing in a certain filter that allows us to identify with the over-privileged George and Lux despite the fact that their every move is based on indulgence and self-preservation. This is some funny stuff here. It doesn’t hurt either that Finley‘s performance of Joe is pretty damned sexy. You easily buy that two desperate fools would line up to do anything this guy would ask.
The Estate is a fun comedy thriller that entertained me from start to finish. The movie was sexy, funny, clever, and a little lurid.
Norm(an) Gidney is a nearly lifelong horror fan. Beginning his love for the scare at the age of 5 by watching John Carpenter's Halloween, he set out on a quest to share his passion for all things spooky with the rest of the world.