Photos and Video
With his previous work including the award-winning Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, director Randall Miller shows his ever-growing versatility in this taut thriller spiked with droll humor. Barkley Michaelson (Bryan Greenberg), a Ph.D candidate in Anthropology, is struggling to finish his thesis on cannibalism when his father Eli (Alan Rickman), a philandering, egocentric university professor, wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Having grown up with the pressure bestowed upon him by his father, Barkley has always had to prove himself, and now the award seems to seal Eli's selfproclaimed superiority. His mother Sarah (Mary Steenburgen), a renowned forensic psychiatrist, reminds Barkley to make sure he's on time to their flight to Sweden to collect the prize, but through a series of events, he doesn't quite make it. Rushing back to his parents' home, who have left already, Barkley is kidnapped and ransomed for the $2 million Nobel prize money- which Eli refuses to pay. Things get even more complicated when Barkley discovers a secret connection between himself and his kidnapper (Shawn Hatosy). What follows is series of fast-paced set-ups in which accusations fly, covers are made and blown, and secrets-some about Eli's hidden past-are laid bare. Barkley realizes that he must bury his father's dark past if he is ever going to free himself, and his mother, from Eli's overbearing grasp. In this dysfunctional family drama that's full of twists and turns, Barkley eventually realizes that eating a dead man isn't evil-it's recycling; true evil is eating a man alive. The winning supporting cast includes Bill Pullman, Danny DeVito, Ted Danson and Ernie Hudson.
Director's Statement Collapse
There have been many times that I have sat in a darkened theater and thought: I wish I could do a movie like that--dark, twisted, edgy, not always PC, with a hot girl, witty dialogue, in-your-face visuals, music pumping from end to end, bold and brash, unforgiving. But I am known as a heartfelt softie who directed THIRTYSOMETING and NORTHERN EXPOSURE and the unabashedly sentimental MARILYN HOTCHKISS BALLROOM DANCING & CHARM SCHOOL. Sure I directed an occasional episode of TV where something dark or tawdry happened before they cut to a commercial, but never a full 110 minutes of unadulterated wicked fun. So I did it. In making NOBEL SON, I couldn't completely turn my back on the lessons I'd learned over the years. "Write about what you know, and know about what you write"; this is a direct quote from a now dead teacher who must have gasped his last embittered breath lamenting the fact that he couldn't capture that final quintessentially revelatory experience on film himself. I confess: on a personal level, NOBEL SON is an exploration of my relationship with my father. At the heart of the film is the father/son story between Eli and Barkley Michaelson (Alan Rickman and Bryan Greenberg). Although my father was not Eli, he was a strong inspiration for this rather darkly painted character. I grew up in academia, specifically science and medicine. My father never won the Nobel Prize, but there was a part of him that thought he deserved it. The irony is that my father read the script for NOBEL SON before he passed away and he thought that Eli was quite preposterous. There is something exquisitely appropriate about that since Eli would have had a similar response. But I know that my father, a New York native, is somewhere smiling, knowing that his son's movie is premiering in Tribeca, even though it doesn't bear any resemblance whatsoever to his own personal experience.
Film Information Collapse
[NOBEL] | 2007 | 107 | Narrative Feature
Foreign Title: (Nobel Son)
About the Director(s)Collapse
While at the American Film Institute, RANDALL MILLER made the award-winning short film, Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School. It later became a feature, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released last year by Samuel Goldwyn Films. Miller has directed numerous television series such as thirtysomething, Northern Exposure, Popular and Jack & Jill, as well as the studio films Houseguest and The Sixth Man. But after finding it difficult to get passionate about the projects he was being offered, Miller and his partner and wife, Jody Savin, set out to create an eccentric thriller about a dysfunctional family, a kidnapping and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.