Ingenious - DVD Review

'heart-warming, fun and well-told'

Somewhere, you've got a drawer. It might not be a drawer actually. Maybe the top of a sideboard, or a cupboard in the garage. Wherever it is and whatever it is, you've got it. It's full of junk. Lightbulbs, unwanted presents, string, used batteries, that rose-petal patterned table cloth your Aunt got you one Christmas. You love and hate that drawer and you probably feel the same way about most of its contents.

Matt (Dallas Roberts) and Sam (Jeremy Renner) make junk to go in your drawer. Maybe they'd argue that description. Maybe they know exactly what they do. Either way, when we join them in Jeff Balsmeyer's real-life Comedy-Drama, Ingenious (formerly Lightbulb) they've pretty much hit rock bottom, gambling money away figuratively on new 'next big things' and literally on greyhounds and blackjack. They need a break: a piece of junk everyone will want in their drawer.

What develops is heart-warming, fun and well-told, if also a little predictable. Matt and Sam are the loveable rogues who might just strike it lucky, their partners are the put-upon other halves desperate for them to snap out of it, Richard Kind is the evil mogul desperate to steal it all away from them.

Only... look a little deeper and... is it all that simple? Sam may be a likeable rogue on occasion but he's also a compulsive gambler, the wild child of the partnership, a womaniser who can't control his habits and who doesn't seem to bring much to the table. In playing him, Renner is closer to James Coughlin, his character in The Town, than he is to his more likeable 'heroes' of recent times.

Matt's other half Gina (Ayelet Zurer) too is different than in most dramas of this ilk and whilst Roberts is good as the unlucky guy with ideas, Zurer is excellent as the wife with, eventually, a plan. Zurer's development of Gina from victim to business woman is confident and assured, painted in broad strokes of drama and realisation by Balsmeyer.

The whole thing could do with shaking up a little, a bit more polish on the sets and a tightening up of Mike Cram's script (the narration is awful), but these are fairly minor issues. Ingenious is an interesting Indie-Drama, with laudable aspirations for a fair distribution deal, now that Renner is a star. Who knows, maybe, in time, the film will be one too.

Ingenious is currently crowd-sourcing funding for a US cinema release on Kickstarter. The project ends on Saturday 13th October. Find out more here.


  1. I know this is a movie that my friends have told me about and are begging me to see.