Give the Gents a Hand: The Matador

Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan bring the buddy movie to bizarre and hilarious new heights in black comedy The Matador.

THE MATADOR (2005)

Starring Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan
Written and Directed by Richard Shepard
Distributed by The Weinstein Company
96 minutes

“Just think of me as the best cocktail party story you’ve ever met” assassin Julian Noble (Pierce Brosnan) tells Regular- Joe Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) after their chance encounter in a Mexican bar leads to the most unlikely of friendships.   While the story of the relationship between a killer and a Denver salesman may seem completely unrealistic, Kinnear and Brosnan are such great actors and have such strong chemistry that they could sell you on just about anything.

The Matador is one of the best black comedies I’ve ever seen because it has the ability to be dark without being depressing and sweet without being sappy.   As different as they may be, Julian and Danny immediately connect in Mexico because they admire the qualities in the other that they lack.

The script written by director Richard Shepard is extremely smart not only for its balance of darkness and heart, but also for fleshing out characters that would in other Hollywood films remain one dimensional.   Kinnear is a dorky yet endearing straight man whose life is forever affected by the death of his son.   As much as he struggles with such a tragedy, Danny still has confidence that life can be better. While part of him clearly idolizes Julian’s glamorous lifestyle, Kinnear makes sure that Danny holds his own during their time together.

Julian meanwhile is a man whose violent and hedonist lifestyle is starting to tear him apart. While Brosnan is great at portraying Julian’s silly and sarcastic side with hilarious one-liners like “I feel like a Bangkok hooker on a Sunday morning after the navy’s just come through” Brosnan also makes sure you understand that Julian is an incredibly sad man, realizing he’s lead an exciting life but never managed to make a real a real connection with another human being.   Danny is Julian’s last chance at gaining some humanity.

When you put these two men together they become one of my all time favorite bromance couples (although no one can come close to the brilliance of Zac Braff and Donald Faison on the TV show Scrubs). From Mexico City to Denver to Arizona Danny and Julian show the power that can come from the most unlikeliest of friendships. Next time you’re in the mood for a fun black comedy with a killer soundtrack, make sure The Matador is on your list.

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