Thursday, April 13, 2006

The World's Fastest Indian (2006)

Anthony Hopkins, looking for all the world like 1980s-era Ray Bradbury, plays Burt Munro, a Kiwi with a one-lane mind. His quest: to break the world motorcycle land-speed record at Bonneville with his custom 1920 Indian Scout. To that end, Munro is your favorite nutty uncle: living a stripped-down life, mechanically inclined, viewing the world chiefly through the prism of his obsession, blind to most else. Hopkins' portrayal is note-perfect, exuding a sublime, only occasionally corny charm as Munro explores a world that at first seems a few steps ahead of his naivete, but eventually gravitates to his gentle but inflexible grace, an application of the same patient, meticulous approach by which Munro has modified his precious "motor-sickle" for the odds-defying run across the salt flats. Indian is based on "one hell of a true story" according to the poster, making it a kind of high-octane version of David Lynch's The Straight Story (1999), and certainly the best character-study film this side of The Apostle (1997). Great cameos from Diane Ladd and Paul Rodriguez.

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