Nothing exceptional happens, and the wrong character dominates the story, in the father-daughter dysfunction dramedy “One More Time.”
But this modest indie has genuine emotion, dynamic interactions, and Christopher Walken going for it, and that’s plenty satisfying.
Written and directed by Robert Edwards (“Land of the Blind”), the film is partly a “Danny Collins”-like tale of a fading singer and lousy dad attempting a late-in-life turnaround. It is also the latest story of a malfunctioning family forced to address its troubles when an estranged member stays for a spell. Edwards doesn’t break ground on either front, but the material is engaging and unsentimental.
Evicted from her Brooklyn apartment, 30ish singer-songwriter Jude (Amber Heard) arrives at the Hamptons home of her famous crooner father, Paul Lombard (Walken). She blames Paul’s selfishness and philandering for the directionless mess she’s become. There’s also friction between Jude and her higher-achieving sister, Corinne (Kelli Garner), and Paul’s latest wife, Lucille (Ann Magnuson).
Corrine’s husband, Tim (Hamish Linklater), who is Jude’s former boyfriend, and Paul’s business manager, Alan (Oliver Platt), also figure into the tangle.
Jude’s wobbly visit includes confrontations with Paul about his deficiencies as a family man and his view of her musical achievements, which include playing in a postpunk band, as a waste of her talent.
When Paul announces that his sagging career is about to soar again — he has written a new single and will be the opening act for the Flaming Lips — Jude tells him he’s a dinosaur whose only selling point is being kitsch for hipsters. Self-aware, he tells her he knows.
Jude’s story isn’t particularly original or surprising. With her pink hair, a micro record label called Chlamydia, and her affair with her married therapist, she has a cliche problem. Although Heard, crucially, makes Jude sympathetic, Edwards serves up too much of her resentful, sputtering character.
The movie’s most compelling asset is Walken’s singing, dancing, spiritedly reminiscing Paul.
In a performance that will highlight many a Christopher Walken film festival someday, he combines a willingness to be a caricature of his distinctive self with a dramatic depth and range to create a terrific character. A not-quite Sinatra who edits his Wikipedia profile to accentuate his merits, upstages his daughter when they sing “Something Stupid” together, and looks back at his glory days with lines like “I played Ping-Pong with Nina” (Simone, of course), Paul is a kick and, often, something unexpectedly deeper.
One More Time
Starring: Amber Heard, Christopher Walken, Kelli Garner, Hamish Linklater
Written and directed by: Robert Edwards
Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes