AWFJ Women On Film – “Limitless” – Susan Granger reviews

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Part fantasy fulfillment, part paranoid thriller, this cautionary sci-fi tale revolves around a struggling author with paralyzing writer’s block.

As the story begins, tormented Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is teetering on the ledge of a Manhattan building, contemplating suicide. Then flashback reveals what propelled him to this point of desperation. Grubby, shaggy and living in a seedy Chinatown walkup, he’s stuck on page one of a long-overdue novel and his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) has just dumped him. A chance meeting with Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), the hustler brother of his ex-wife Melissa (Anna Friel), turns Eddie on to a cool, new, black market drug called NZT. It’s a pharmaceutical miracle, allowing users to access all parts of their brain, not only retrieving information but also collating and sorting it, leading to insightful conclusions. In a delirious frenzy of clarity and perception, Eddie finishes his novel and embarks on an incredibly lucrative investment career, borrowing seed money from a Russian loan shark (Andrew Howard) and quickly becomes so successful that he attracts the attention of Wall Street high-rollers like Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro). But Eddie knows he’s hooked, and when his ‘dealer’ is brutally murdered, Eddie is determined to avoid the same fate.

Producer Leslie Dixon adapted Alan Glynn’s 2001 British novel “The Dark Fields,” a title that references F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Dixon and director Neil Burger (“The Illusionist”) not-so-subtly skew sympathy for the pill-popping protagonist, evoking admonitory stories about writers and other artists who have become addicted to Adderall for the same reasons. But what makes the intoxicating concept even more insidious is the irrefutable charisma of Bradley Cooper, who finally has an opportunity to show not only his acting skill but his scruffy-to-suave range.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Limitless” is a subversive 6. According to the dictionary, in the legend, Faust traded his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge, so to strike a Faustian bargain is to be willing to sacrifice anything to satisfy a limitless desire for knowledge or power.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.