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Posts Tagged ‘"Finch"’

“FINCH”: Fatherhood

“FINCH” My rating: B (Apple +)

115 minutes | MPAA:PR-13

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks could probably sell refrigerators to Eskimos.

That’s what he does, metaphorically speaking, in “Finch,” a post-apocalyptic science fantasy that is equal parts Cormack McCarthy’s “The Road,” Pixar’s “Wall-E” and Hanks’ “Cast Away.”

If that sounds like an unweildy mashup of unlikely bedfellows…well, it is. But Hanks is such a watchable presence that he makes this one-man show worthwhile.

Fitch (Hanks) lives alone in an industrial bunker beneath the ruins of St. Louis. A decade earlier a sonic flare wiped out modern civilization and left Earth scorched by deadly ultraviolet rays.

Most days Fitch suits up in protective gear to search for supplies. He leaves back in the safety of the bunker the only other living creature in his life, a dog named Goodyear on whom he lavishes affection.

The narrative of Miguel Sapochnik’s feature (the script is by Craig Luck and Ivor Powell) centers first on Finch’s constructing a humanoid-ish robot and programming it to learn more or less like a human child.

This creature, who will eventually name itself Jeff, begins by stuttering static but over time learns to talk (Jeff is voiced by Caleb Landry Jones). It is curious, just like a child, which means that it sometimes gets into trouble.

But it is also loyal to its creator/father and understands that its purpose is to take care of Goodyear should anything happen to Finch. Which seems likely, given the bloody cough he’s developed.

The bulk of the film takes place on the road as Finch loads up Jeff and the pooch into an ancient recreational vehicle in an attempt to outrun the killer storms that are racking the Midwest. They head out West; Finch has it in his head that he’d like to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

There are dangers, both natural and manmade. But “Finch” isn’t so much about reaching a destination as experiencing the possibilities of one’s humanity along the way.

Tom Hanks and “Jeff”

As mentioned earlier, this is pretty much a one-man show. Good thing that man is Hanks, who is able to plumb all sorts of levels without ever pushing too hard, developing his character’s crushing loneliness, his need for companionship, his parental instincts, his fears, his hopes and, finally, his resignation to his fate.

Of course he gets immeasurable help from the designers and animators of Jeff, a creation of metal and plastic that develops a personality before our eyes. I can’t tell you how much of Jeff is puppetry, how much CG, but the results are utterly convincing. Rarely does a human actor get the chance to express a character’s personality through physical performance; it’s rarer still to pull it off with a mechanical contraption.

But that’s what production designer Tom Meyer and his crew have achieved here. Jeff may be all nuts and bolts, but he’s also disarmingly human. This is no small accomplishment.

“Finch” is jammed with improbabilities and explains virtually nothing about Finch’s past or how he came to be in this situation.

But here again Hanks compensates just by being, well, Tom Hanks. His essential “Hank-ness” gently expands to fill the gaps. Watching, we understand that we’re in good hands.

| Robert W. Butler

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