Nobel Son is an eccentric crime drama written by husband and wife team, Jody Savin and Randall Miller. The film tells the zig-zagging tale of Barkley Michaelson – son of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Eli Michaelson – whose life is in a deep life rut. He’s struggling to finish his PhD thesis on cannibalism and trying to catch the eye of the girl who practices disturbing spoken word at the coffee shop where he studies. Barkley and his mother Sarah, a renowned forensic psychiatrist, find themselves dealing with a philandering egotist, who seems to care less and less about hurting his family.
As if life isn’t bad enough, on the morning he and his family are scheduled to fly off to watch his father receive the Nobel award, Barkley is kidnapped and the ransom demanded is the $2,000,000 Nobel prize money. Needless to say, Eli refuses to pay up and so starts a venomous tale of familial dysfunction, lust, betrayal and ultimately, revenge.
Alan Rickman steals the show as Eli Michaelson, who’s so caught up in himself, he doesn’t seem to worry about being caught cheating, or the fact that his son has been abducted by thugs. He plays a great comic relief, as the character you love to hate. Shawn Hatosy as the kidnapper, is frighteningly funny as well, and there are strong supporting performances by Bill Pullman as the lead detective on the case, Danny DeVito as the OCD-crazed neighbor and Mary Steenburgen as Eli’s wife. Barkley (Bryan Greenberg) and the rambling poet City Hall (Eliza Dushku) have a believable chemistry, thanks in most part to Dushku’s amazingly sexy charisma.
Nobel Son just can’t decide what it is – a crime thriller, a dark comedy or both. It tries to be too many things at once, and left me with an uneasiness by the end; an ending that I thought was flat and unsatisfying.
Other than the acting, one element to note in Nobel Son is the great soundtrack, which includes a rich, dramatic score by Mark Adler, augmented by the techno rifts of noted DJ Paul Oakenfold.
Special features on the disc include two versions of the trailer, some deleted scenes, and a pretty good commentary by the writers and actors.
Director: Randall Miller
Writers: Jody Savin, Randall Miller
Cast: Shawn Hatosy, Alan Rickman, Mary Steenburgen, Bryan Greenberg, Eliza Dushku
Below is the red-band trailer for Nobel Son.