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 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 he modified his precious "motor-sickle" for that 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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