Numb

Written and Directed by Harris Goldberg, Numb stars Matthew Perry as a chronically depressed man who suddenly feels the desire to cure himself after meeting the girl of his dreams. The film also co-stars film veterans Kevin Pollack and Mary Steenburgen.

Screenwriter Hudson Milbank (Perry) suffers from a rare mental disorder called acute depersonalization, a disorder essentially leaving him disconnected, devoid of any feelings or emotions. He is obsessed with the grotesque level of sadness he feels on a daily basis and wastefully goes thru the motions. Humerously, he gets thru the average day watching lesbian excercise classes and the Golf channel while downing pill after pill in an attempt to cure himself. Doctor after Doctor seems at a loss to help him and merely throws a new prescription at him, in an attempt to help. Finally, on pure chance, Hudson meets the girl of his dreams, Sarah (Lynn Collins), and tries harder to cure his condition and win her over.

A dark comedy to be sure, Numb still does have some light humor within it and does a respectable job of showcasing Matthew Perry’s trademark wit and dry humor that made him so popular on Friends and in The Whole Nine Yards, however Perry never quite does reach the level of greatness he achieved in those past roles. In this role he never quite seems to “go for it” as an actor, the script often calls for him to be alone and brooding with some emotion or another behind the surface, and Perry’s lack of ability to convey that second layer, that deepness within the character is disappointing and often frustrating.

However, Perry’s chemistry with Lynn Collins is very good, and she brings a great, much needed upness to the film. She is impossibly adorable in the role, as her character attempts to both understand what Hudson is going threw and help him move past it. Her speech about what she thinks love should be is incredibly sweet and moving. As a result, I found myself rooting for them as a couple, more so than Hudson himself. I wanted him to move past his condition so they would suceed, and Sarah would be happy more so than Hudson, and perhaps thats a failing in the movie or perhaps my failing in identifying with him. Either way, it didn’t work the way it should’ve and that brought my opinion of the movie down considerably.

Overall, it is a okay (but nowhere near great) film that is extremely serious with some light humor and some cute moments sprinkled in. I think its main problem may’ve been its attempt at balancing the humerous moments with the serious, dry portrayal of Hudson’s condition. The viewer can sometimes be at a loss as to wiether or not its okay to laugh with Hudson or laugh at him or laugh at all. The direction just gets so serious most of the movie that the intended thoughts and emotions don’t quite come across very well, and to me, when you can’t clearly express where you want the audience to go emotionally, then you’ve lost them.

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