The Architect **
"The Architect" is the second, to my knowledge anyway, in a series of films being released by HDTV in an interesting format. It was released in theatres the first week of December, and then released on DVD a few days later. The quality of this film is high enough to go directly to video, or directly to Lifetime. In fact, if it weren't for gaining two big stars to headline the film, it probably wouldn't have made it past the script reading stages. "The Architect" is about eight separate movies all crammed into one, with only two of them even being worthwhile. And that is where it faces its biggest problems-it just doesn't know what it wants to be. Does it want to provide social commentary on housing and development? Does it want to be a drama about a family on the verge of a breakdown? Does it want to be about a marriage? Does it want to be about a young girl who begins to develop and discover boys? Does it want to be about a young man questioning his homosexuality? And so writer/director Matt Tauber decides to take topics from race, sexual identity, and art over quality to forms his own little disaster piece, which is a mess from the start.
In the beginning, it seems like this will be a war of the words between Leo Waters and Tonya Neely. Leo is an architect, and a project of his from years ago is getting bad feedback in the present time. Tonya is concerned with the building, as the neighborhood around it has been filled with crime and no good. She demands that the building be knocked down and in its place a new building, and hopefully a new community. Tonya thinks that bringing her petition directly to the architect himself would be a more effective solution. Leo is not ready to jump on the wagon and sign Tonya's petition, saying that it would be an insult to himself, and it would basically be admitting to himself that he failed. Leo's family is not perfect either-his wife is going through a little crisis where she likes to throw valuables around the house. Why? Because it has to give him another thing to worry about. And then there is his daughter, Christina, who has become fascinated by her chest and wants everybody else to be as well. And then there is his son, Martin, who befriends Shawn, a resident of the area were the building in question is, who may be expecting something a little more than friendship.
Now I was into the first few minutes or so. I knew that it wouldn't be a masterpiece, but a possibly interesting film on a topic that interests me-architectural works, and the place that certain structures have in society. There's an issue similar going on where I live at the moment. But Tauber refuses to stay in one place, and drifts into uncomfortable scenes and subplots that drift as far away from the original story as possible. I didn't need to see a scene between Christina and a trucker that she befriends in the back of a bar. I didn't need the homosexual subplot between Martin and Shawn, and a scene that they share together on the roof of the building in question. I wanted more of the conflict between the architect and Tonya, and instead it turned into a piece about their families. "The Architect" tries to be many things, but fails to highlight the social commentary piece that it should be-and by the end it seemed like a complete waste of time. Matt Tauber needs to focus his work a little more-this clearly could have used a few rewrites. At times this seemed exactly like something you would see on Lifetime-worn and tired out stories and plot lines with acting that is worse than the family on those Eggland advertisements.