Obscure But Captivating
- The 2006 Indy drama The Hawk Is Dying centers around George Gattling, a man who does not feel like his life has any particular meaning or excitement, who, as a remedy for his current state of affairs, has been trying to train a hawk. Unfortunately every hawk he has tried to train has ended unsuccessfully with the hawk dying. Still, he tries again; only this time, as he takes on a new hawk, a tragedy occurs in his life. Now, this new hawk is not just a hobby of George's, it becomes an obsession and necessity for him to train this hawk.
Paul Giamatti stars as George Gattling and is at the top of his game with this great but generally unsung performance. Giamatti really gives the role his all, putting so much energy and feeling into his performance and carries the entire film. His performance is significantly enhanced when you realize that he is doing all that on screen with a live hawk on his arm for most of the film!
The rest of the film's cast is pretty good - not too special; but pretty good. Rusty Schwimmer leads the supporting charge as George's sister Precious, Michael Pitt does a good job with his role as George's autistic nephew Fred, and Michelle Williams does an alright job as Betty but leaves her performance a little bit wanting with many weak moments.
Filmed in an admirable way by Julian Goldberger, with much of the film shot at close range and by hand held cameras, The Hawk Is Dying is a hop, skip, and a jump away from looking like a high-quality home movie. I know that sounds bad, but it really is not. The Hawks Is Dying employs the pseudo-documentary style that is so popular and overdone in today's film market in an actually pleasing way. Take note, Indy community - The Hawk Is Dying is one of the few films that have used this popular Indy-doc style in a way that actually enhances the viewing experience.
The Hawk Is Dying is a good film overall, but it definitely is not going to be everyone's liking. Many who see this film will dismiss it "weird" and, while I will not go as far as labeling it as such myself, you do have to read between the lines a little bit. Outside of Giamatti's awesome performance, the film's best feature is how it keeps the viewer guessing, staring at the screen, and ultimately having absolutely no clue where the film is headed. The film does have a few disturbing scenes that I sure could have definitely gone without; but overall, The Hawk Is Dying is an interesting film and is recommendable simply for Giamatti's excellent performance.
CBC Rating: 8/10