Numb - Review
Review by Jack Foley
FOLLOWING his accomplished performance in the ill-fated Studio 60: On The Sunset Strip, Matthew Perry continues to move away from his Chandler Bing persona on Friends with Numb, a quirky but appealing alternative rom-com.
The actor plays 30-something screenwriter Hudson Milbank, a man with serious mental issues. Already suffering in varying degrees from obsessive compulsive disorder, kleptomania and constant negative thoughts – all of which he blames on his poor relationship with his “crazy” mother (Helen Shaver) – Hudson’s psychological problems escalate when a marijuana binge triggers a further complaint.
A victim of depersonalization disorder, Hudson begins to feel completely disconnected from his body and everything around him to the point where nothing seems real.
Out of the blue, he then meets Sara (Lynn Collins), the only person around whom he can be himself. But as he attempts to keep his condition a secret from her by seeking help from yet another in a never-ending succession of doctors, Hudson must eventually choose between coming clean or blowing his final shot at happiness.
At first glance, Numb might not seem like an overly appealing prospect given the personality disorder of its leading character and the fact that it marks the debut feature from writer Harris Goldberg (whose screenwriting hits include the dismal likes of Without A Paddle, The Master Of Disguise and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo).
Thanks to a strong cast and Perry’s immensely appealing central performance the film emerges as a genuinely endearing indie crowd-pleaser that has more than a whiff of Garden State about it.
Perry, especially, expertly embodies the emotionless state he continually finds himself trapped within, as well as the frustration and anxiety that comes with it. It’s a performance far removed from his Friends alter-ego that could win him many more admirers.
But there’s some wonderful support, too, from a talented ensemble who help to extract some priceless humour from the situations Hudson finds himself in.
Kevin Pollack enjoys some nicely glib moments as Hudson’s writing partner and conscience, Mary Steenburgen is hilarious as a psychiatrist who has the hots for Hudson, and Lynn Collins (of he Number 23 and The Lake House fame) is lovely as the object of his affections.
If anything, Collins provides the film with its emotional heartbeat and a couple of her musings about the nature of true love are genuinely poignant.
Credit, too, deserves to go to Goldberg who avoids the need for too much sentimentality and keeps things nicely grounded. His film is consistently amusing and often surprising, culminating in an uplifting conclusion that even carries a lovely note of ambiguity.
Numb is therefore an indie gem awaiting discovery.
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD Release: July 21, 2008