It’s not often that a screenwriter adapts his own material for the worse, but the late Dennis Potter’s truncated take on his acclaimed 1986 BBC miniseries fails to translate to the big screen. Under the static direction of Keith Gordon, the film falls short of developing the intricate plot of Potter’s quirky tale, about Dan Dark (Downey), an embittered pulp fiction writer who fantasizes that he is a crime-solving crooner. Gordon’s forced atmospherics (strident lighting, minimalist sets) come across as visually jarring and narratively clunky. Downey does fester nicely as the mentally and physically distressed Dark, while Gibson hams it up as his oddball psychiatrist, and Wright Penn is charming as Dark’s ex-wife, but a few key performances can’t straighten up this disjointed mess. EXTRAS In a perfunctory commentary (the only bonus feature) Gordon discusses how he made the most of his tight budget, coaxed his reluctant stars into rehearsing, and overcame other mundane production obstacles.
We gave it an A