Until recently, I’d always done my best to veer away from Nicolas Cage. My experience of him had been dominated by some of his more laughable performances. For this reason, I was surprised when, on a desperate afternoon, I shoved the The Weather Man into the DVD player. Credits rolling, I’d decided that Gore Verbinski’s black comedy had been a revelation. This experience, prior to Adaptation and Raising Arizona, had in fact opened my eyes to something – not dissimilar to his portrayal of Ben Sanderson in Leaving Las Vegas, Cage succeeded in presenting viewers with a strangely tense and unpredictable air through his downward-spiralling character, David Spritz.
“People don’t throw things at me anymore. Maybe because I carry a bow around”
David Spritz is a weatherman in Chicago. Throughout the bulk of the film, he struggles to deal with an estranged wife, two kids, a fatally ill, Pulitzer-Prize winning father and a curious loathing from the masses who throw fast food at him on the street because – he suspects – of his highly paid, but easy job. At the height of his midlife crisis, he decides to take up archery as a way of dealing with his problems. Around the same time, he’s offered a job in New York, presenting him with a dilemma: a question regarding the exclusiveness of one’s professional and personal life.
The Weather Man is very dry and very dark. The humour is rife, and appears out of dark corners, forcing its audience to laugh only at the difficulties of contemporary life in America. There is comedy everywhere — found within Spritz’s overweight daughter, his failed marriage, his constant humiliation and his low self-esteem — there is little happiness to be found, and this is a far deeper examination of life than initially believed. In one scene, laughter springs from the image of Spritz pointing a giant bow and arrow in the direction of his wife’s lover. At another time, the viewer laughs at the picture of Spritz’s daughter struggling in a dance class she never wished to be a part of. The mystery that shrouds this film makes it appealing beyond belief.
“That was refreshing. I’m refreshed. I’m refreshing”
Nicolas Cage proves to be fantastic as David Spritz, the tragic hero who the viewer can’t help but feel sympathetic towards and – in some instances – relate to. At the same time, Cage portrays a protagonist lost in what seems to be permanent victimhood. The film is pushed along by Michael Caine on perfect form and Hope Davis as Noreen, Spritz’s wife. Most notably, Gemmenne de la Pena, as the protagonist’s daughter, succeeds beautifully in adding a thin layer of tragedy to the whole thing. In this way, The Weather Man becomes an ode to life as it very often is. The difference here is that, as is often possible in real life situations, the comedy of existence becomes very much apparent.
Read also at Unsung Films
The Nicolas Cage Paradox (by Angeliki Coconi)