Greg Kinnear, Willem Dafoe, Rita Wilson and Maria Bello
"Auto Focus" Review
"Auto Focus" is an intriguing film based upon the life of Bob Crane, who gained most of his fame for playing Hogan on "Hogan's Heroes." Of course, by now most are familiar with the fact that this film delves deeply into Crane's sexual addiction, sexual exploits and his eventual murder...allegedly at the hands of his videographer. (Who was never convicted).
I loved the story here...the screenplay, but found the action incredibly slow in places and almost mind-numbing in others. I've never been so disinterested in a film about sex. I'm unsure who to blame...is it director Paul Schrader? Schrader makes bold choices here...so, I'm not inclined to blame him. Greg Kinnear takes a basically perverted character and brings a strong sense of humanity to him...in other words, evokes a sympathetic response even during the most perverted of behaviors. Additionally, as his friend and videographer, Willem Dafoe does a wonderful job here....so, we have solid direction, nice performances, great script...what's the problem? Part of the problem is the score...for me, it's almost dirge like...it takes a serious topic and forces it into the brain in an almost 3-D manner...it's overkill. I also felt, after awhile, that we began to see too much of "one note" from the two lead characters...The descent into the sexual addiction was played slowly, dramatically and intensely.
In supporting roles, we have the likes of Rita Wilson, Maria Bello, Ron Leibman, Kurt Fuller (steals his scenes as Werner Klemperer), Ed Begley Jr. and Michael Mckean.
The technical aspects of the film are quite on the money from costume to set design to vehicles...one exception is a factual mistake...Begley Jr's character in the film refers to the Quad Cities...at the time of this film, the Quad Cities were, in fact, still the Tri-Cities.
I can't say that this film resonated with me like I believed it would. It seemed to lack an emotional center...in some ways, it became bogged down in the sensationalism of the story. That, for me, keeps it from being a truly great film...but, it is still worth a view.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic