The Architect (2006) Poster


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A challenging and entertaining film
Mobiz3519 November 2006
I saw The Architect at the Tribeca Film festival earlier this year, and it has really stuck with me. It's one of those movies that asks tough questions about difficult issues like race, sexual identity and economic justice, and leaves room for the viewer to form their own opinions. Unlike the movie Crash, which deals with many of the same themes, there are no spoon fed answers in this film. Instead of one dimensional characters the Architect brings to life some complex and flawed individuals, and shows us their struggles to find the right path. Some really strong performances here, especially from Viola Davis. If you get a chance to see it, I highly recommend it.
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potentially decent
matthewczaja15 February 2007
I thought that the premise of the movie was very interesting and a good reflection of how living conditions, (less then the architecture itself) affect social interaction and psychology. The activist claims that people in the projects are "piled" on top of each other and I thought it was an accurate description of the reality of public housing. The rest of the movie was less interesting and confusing at times. The mother and daughter characters were seemingly out of place, especially the mother's character. The sexual overtones were likewise somewhat difficult to connect with the story. I think more could've been done to develop what started off as a good story about a compelling urban issue.
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A Small Independent Film with a Big Message
gradyharp6 December 2006
THE ARCHITECT is a film based on a play by David Grieg that deals with social class dichotomy, lack of communication in families, gender confrontations in youths, and coming to grips with decisions of the past that later haunt. Made on a budget less than a million dollars and shot in twenty days, this unique little movie packs a wallop in the most secretive and subtle way. Directed by Matt Tauber, who also wrote the screenplay with Grieg, it has a fascinating, if at times disconcerting, format of quick scenes flashed before our eyes like simultaneous conversations - and some of the power of the film is piecing those snapshots together as the film ends.

Leo Waters (Anthony LaPaglia) is a successful architect, married to a wife Julia (Isabella Rossellini) who seems on the edge of mental instability. They have two teenage children - Christine (a very fine young actress Hayden Panettiere) who at age 15 is aware of her body and yet fearful of its implications in her interactions with boys and men, and Martin (Sebastian Stan) who has returned home from school as a drop out whose mind is preoccupied with soul searching. The discord at home is matched by the incipient calamity ongoing at a Project Leo designed early in his career, a Project now physically crumbling under the weight of drug dealing, crime, and discontent tenants - all led by activist Tonya Neeley (the superb actress Viola Davis) who has one daughter at home with an early conceived baby and another daughter who has stepped out of the Projects to better her education (her twin brother committed suicide in despair of his plight in the Projects). Two families in conflict over different reasons on the surface but sharing a similarity that is demonstrated as the story proceeds.

Christina naively begins to frequent bars and is protected by a truck driver Joe (the very fine actor Walton Goggins) who kindly introduces her to the realities facing hormonally charged yet fearful young girls. Martin, in an attempt to understand the Projects problem as explained to his father and family by Tonya, visits the Projects and meets Shawn (the very fine and handsome young actor Paul James) who cautiously helps Martin discover his sexuality only to succeed in allowing Martin to discover his true sexual proclivity but meets a sad ending when he is rebuffed.

At the peak of tensions Tonya succeeds in winning over Leo's understanding of her activist dilemma, Julia breaks and leaves her family and both of Leo's children discover life lessons that will imprint their psyches permanently. Minor victories rise out of major turmoil - and the writer and director have the courage to leave the story for us to resolve.

It is refreshing to encounter a cast of actors so sensitive as this one. From the leading roles to the most minor of characters the acting is absolutely first rate. We need more films of this caliber to remind us that one of the purposes of art is to allow us to see the problems of our world. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
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"...but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
janet-5519 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In this film each unhappy family is, to a greater or lesser extent, the architect of its own demise.Many people have criticised the film for not saying much, or for being overloaded with story lines; for not following through or following through too explicitly. All in all it clearly confuses and divides people. I think there is a problem and it is not the movie that has the problem but the audience.This story touches on some of the last taboos in cinema namely the actual visualisation of homosexual sex, and even worse in the eyes of the beholders it addresses incest. The cross cultures/cross races thing seems to me to be a side issue to the main problem illustrated here which is that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way to quote Tolstoy (apt here as Shawn the black homosexual is reading "Anna Karenina" at one point in the action, and like Anna unable to come to terms with himself and the world in which he lives, eventually commits suicide.)The film comes originally from a stage play set in Glasgow. Some of the dialogue has been lifted straight from the play and so can sound a little stilted, but in my opinion this device helps to maintain the necessary distance between the action and the audience. This plainly is an allegorical piece, each actor fulfils a function rather than a character but the story is none the worse for that; many art house movies do likewise. It is the subject matter here that is so difficult. As for the actual movie, it looks good, in fact is amazing considering it was shot in 20 days in New York masquerading as Chicago (I assume to keep the costs down). The acting by the whole ensemble is excellent. And I think one has to give Anthony LaPaglia especial praise as the Architect in question clearly in the grip of an incestuous passion. This cannot be an easy kind of role for any actor to play, but, as one has come to expect of Mr LaPaglia, he carries it off to perfection which may go a long way to explain the uncomfortableness felt by some moviegoers. Within his oeuvre this film seems almost like a companion piece to the more hopeful "Winter Solstice". My advice to anyone wishing to see "The Architect" would be to go along with an open mind, expect to be challenged and perhaps you'll come away with the same feelings as me, that this is a good film, a thought-provoking film but not one to watch just for the pure fun of it, go and see Mr LaPaglia's other current film "Happy Feet" if you want that!
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wobbly malaise
transient-230 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Imagine yourself on a riverbank prodding mud with a stick; the dirt is unsettled, stirs in the water, settles down again. In this film we're introduced to a number of characters who cross paths, and whose conflicts overlap on occasion before settling to a passive resolution.

The confrontation between the architect of a dilapidated housing project and a dissatisfied resident forms the central vein in a network of sadly uninteresting stories.

There is no surprise, and no insight brought to the representation of a young girl who in alienation craves affection; nor to the truck driver who doesn't want to ruin her first time; nor to the teenage boy accepting he's gay, nor to the grieving mother in the projects and finally, there is no insight into the proud man who doesn't want to admit his ego blinds him. Here we find a few people we've all seen before. They barely talk to each other and - unlike real people - when they do talk they say exactly what you'd expect them to say. Don't be tricked into thinking this film is asking any kind of question about family or race. If that's true, what's the question? The pretentious and two-dimensional nature of this writing is most transparent in the final scene wherein the architect and his son meet on a rooftop in the projects. Finally they have something to talk about: through my actions I have been the architect of someone's suffering, but there was no indication that I should have done anything differently - like father like son? Well, here the film ends abruptly, safe, risk-free. Not taking risks in your writing is not especially clever, let's not make a point of it.

And unlike any number of films where stronger character sketches guide the narrative, time is linear in this picture; you won't see events intertwining or taking place simultaneously, nothing is revealed as cause or effect. "Crash", to which this film has been compared, and "American Beauty" had engaging narrative formats that compelled you to unravel a mystery. A director is an architect of sorts, and the director of this film is just like the architect he depicts - he's merely housing people in a flat, familiar, boring rectangle. There's no drama or vision, so we have to ask: what's the function?
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Solid acting by LaPaglia & Davis can't save a lackluster sociopoliticial drama indie
george.schmidt27 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Anthony LaPaglia stars as Leo Waters, a Chicago-based architect whose domestic life is not as stable as his professional; to wit: his eldest child, Martin (Sebastian Stan), has just dropped out of college and his aimlessness leads to an unlikely assignation; his youngest, daughter Christina (Hayden Panettiere, currently on NBC's hit series "Heroes" as the cheerleader impervious to pain), whose blossoming into young womanhood is proving to be a painful event; and his wife Julia (Isabella Rossellini), a homemaker whose anal retentive disposition is masquerading some still waters running deep. To add further complication, enter Tonya Neeley (Viola Davis), a woman crusading for a petition to have her housing project building be torn down. Convinced the design is the main culprit to the tragic underpinnings of her situation, Tonya elicits Leo's help by forcing him to sign her petition, figuring his name will get the civic wheels in motion. Leo naturally declines, since his ego in check will not recognize that this is the blame for the building's plague of problems (i.e. drug dealing on the premises and general vandalism). But that will not stop Tonya's quest for closure.

Based on a play by David Greig, a Scottish playwright, novice director Matt Tauber (a fellow American playwright and film producer making his debut here), adapts with a leaden storyline that mars a genuine plot point: how does housing truly affect its populace. He instead sets up one unlikely premise (Martin suddenly having a gay encounter; Christina lamely seducing a truck driver; Julia going off her nut, et al) that serves no real pay off and loses interest in Tonya's plight (it is apparent that she lost one child, while her surviving off- spring are so disparate they may as well be strangers), which should have been the central focus.

While the storytelling misses its mark however the acting is on-target. LaPaglia, one of my favorite actors, gives a complex yet sublime turn as the slightly arrogant and apparently clueless titular character. He is matched note for note by Davis (last seen on screen in a small yet memorable performance in Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center"), imbuing Tonya with dignity yet allowing her inner indignations brim to the surface not unlike a Sameul L. Jackson character.
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I didn't care for this film at all
enedzel16 November 2006
I just saw this film last night at the Denver Film Festival and didn't think it was very good. From what I have read about the original play, that sounds like it would have been the better version to see. The dialog in this film did not sound real to me. The characters were not developed. I didn't understand why the mother was so unhappy. I couldn't believe, or have sympathy for, the daughter's choices. I didn't buy the relationship between the black boy and the white boy at all. The part of the story about black woman's family was more believable but still not explored enough. Also, I think most Chicagoans will have trouble with the veracity of some of the scenes. I lived all my life in Chicago until two years ago and, I'm sorry, white teenagers do not hang out in the projects. Nor do their white fathers go there at night and hang around on roof tops smoking cigarettes.
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Boring dysfunction.
paulcreeden19 March 2007
Given the themes of this movie, it is particularly sad that it is such a boring and plodding exercise in poor film-making. The cast seems either drugged or not drugged enough, with the exceptions of Paul James as Shawn and Walton Goggins as Joe, who seemed to be breathing at least. The staging and lighting were horrific. The make-up and wardrobe were worse. The writing was stilted and paced for a depressed tortoise. Anthony LaPaglia did not seem the same actor who has done so many good roles. Isabella Rossellini appeared to have been injected with Botox and walked/talked like a robot. The soundtrack was the most annoying thing about the film. It was like Philip Glass on downers at the piano. Fingernails on a chalk board. Perhaps the portrayal of a really broken down housing project in a big city was accurate. But it seems quite pathetic that that element was the redeeming part of the movie, doesn't it? Glancing references are made to insanity, incest, child molestation, and homophobic rape. As in "Oh, by the way...." The DVD I watched had an interview with the writer/director who proudly spoke of the embellishments he made to the original play. It's scary to think he thought the movie was better than the original play.
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The Architect: A quiet yet strong film
TheNewHotness1 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I recently saw The Architect at one of the Blu-Ray screenings they conducted (fanastic visual quality, by the way). I wasn't floored by the film, but I was impressed.

Before I saw it, I had little idea what it was about, even when I consulted IMDb. I'm not sure I could describe everything about the movie perfectly, especially without spoilers, but here goes.

Anthony LaPaglia, with his usual gravitas, plays Chicago Architect Leo Waters. Leo's family life is far from perfect, with son Martin recently leaving school, daughter Christina struggling to balance her sexuality and innocence, and wife Julia on the verge of snapping with a compulsion for cleanliness.

Meanwhile, Tonya Neeley (Viola Davis) is a community activist who lives in one of Leo's creations, a public housing project on Chicago's south side. She is attempting to get the projects torn down in a struggle to find meaning after her son dies. Her daughter is living with more affluent friends and Viola is forced to deal with the gangs and sense of emptiness surrounding the site. She attempts to enlist Leo to help her get the project demolished.

If I wanted to be pretentious, I'd suggest the symbolism between the decaying housing complex the meticulous Leo arrogantly refuses to even visit, and his decaying family life. In any case, this movie brought to mind several other movies about struggling families in this vein: The Ice Storm, American Beauty, and The Virgin Suicides. Fans of those films will probably enjoy this little film, even without any publicity to support it. Great acting all around.
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The strong realism of Disney talking animals, or Michael Moore
hhfarm-122 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
When I read the synopsis and saw that it was made from a play I wondered "How will they work into a story about a project the requisite themes of repressed women, depressed women, teenage angst, and a guy struggling w/ homosexuality but then giving in?" They do that, and so much more. Here's how: A white male architect built a project some years earlier. It's falling apart (maybe) and is dangerous.

A black woman lives there with her unwed-mother daughter. Her other daughter is an honor student and lives elsewhere. The woman heads up a group to destroy the project. Her 5-year-old son was depressed and stepped off a building to his death years earlier. The honor student comes to visit; mom gives her some homemade cake; the daughter throws it away later.

The architect's son comes home from college, makes some comments about his sisters sn*tch (his word) and his dad's lechery; then he goes to the project where he meets a gay black kid. They flirt; the son is repelled; but he gets some beer and comes back; they walk around the project at night through gang members selling drugs. The gang members don't taunt them. After much dialogue about gay things, they have (explicit) sex on a rooftop.

The 15-year-old daughter is beautiful, has a nice body, seems stable. But she's depressed because she has to go to the mall with her parents. Maybe she also has too many clothes or shoes. Or her breasts are too big.

She lies that she's in college, goes to a bar, gets picked up, gets scared, is saved by a ~35-year-old delivery guy; they ride around all night in the delivery truck, she comes on to him, he says no and takes her home.

The architect's wife is depressed - her BMW is too new, her custom house too clean and neat, her maid too careful, she has too much money - it's hard to tell. She starts breaking flower pots in the back yard at night and stares into space. The architect puts cigarette ashes on a saucer; she breaks the saucer; he gives her a neck rub; she asks for a divorce.

The black kid steps off the roof - perhaps he didn't realize that being gay meant being gay? The son goes out to the project. The architect goes out for a different reason. None of the gang members bother them, even though they've been threatening others. They meet on the rooftop.
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this is NOT a good movie
napablogger27 November 2006
Depressing and meaningless pap. It is like one of those French movies where you are supposed to just know that life is meaningless, hopeless and futile without having to say why. I mean, we all just know that it is all hopeless, right?

The whole concept of an architect of some buildings being responsible for how the people there act later was also very weak.

All of the characters are unlikeable except the daughter, who is also a very depressing character as well. As we join them, all is lost emotionally for everyone, and we are never really told why. The characters just do not come across as being real, no one is that totally depressed and without some joy or some positivity in life whatsoever.

Stupid movie, Crash was ten times better than this useless movie.
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Good story with characters with real life struggles.
tyronelikesturtles28 August 2018
I initially saw this movie for Sebastian Stan but after watching it, it felt like it was more than that. All characters have deep struggles, and some try to help themselves, while some don't and in real life, that's how it works. Some people just sit their on the couch and waste their life while the other would try to help them self and others. I would highly recommend this movie.
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Lynch Would Should Love This!
grbell14 January 2007
Apart from seeing his Blue Velvet starlet in a perfect role for her age group, the movie makes you ask questions. This movie really makes people look at cause and effect. It doesn't place blame, rather shows implications of well intentioned, ignorant motivations. As a viewer, you may have to do some soul searching in order to fully enjoy the movie. The meaning of each scene as it is broken up, is a definite plus. At first I was put off by the back and forth breakup of the shots but soon began to conform to the format. I liked the performances of all the actors. It was nice to see Rosselini in her usual subdued role and equally effective. To see the lead actor in a spectacular role I might suggest Lantana!
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Vincentiu9 June 2012
too much. too strange. a lot of questions, each important, each profound, cruel and delicate in a huge ball. a cast in a kind of movie-play in which only form of survive is science to use a mask. marriage crisis, coming up of a young man among shadows, a wife like a Bergman character if she is not a zombie, a daughter in search of something , an activist like Don Quijote without money for psychoanalyst, a father face to face with his past errors. the sin of movie - use of very good actors in a chaotic experiment.or ambition to say all without basic rules. it may be modern art. if it is a picture. but it is only a poor movie. beautiful as intention. not very seductive as final work.
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Complex Film
wisewebwoman19 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I didn't expect much from this DVD picked up in a remainder bin. I was in for a delightful surprise.

Based on a stage play by David Grieg, the story draws together the main theme of Leo Waters, played with nuance and emotional subtlety by Anthony Paglia, the architect and his design of a building project several years ago and his subsequent disconnection from it, reflected in the disconnection from his wife, Julia (Isabella Rosellini) who is completely underused, and his children.

The film begins with Leo's son, Martin, dropping out from college. Martin is troubled, furtive and secretive.

Viola Davis is the activist in the projects, eager to tear down the buildings and get the area cleaned up who butts heads with Leo.

Hayden Panatierre plays the teenage daughter just coming into her own sexuality and experimenting in bars and stranger hookups unbeknownst to her parents. An excellent performance.

How all these threads come together, and in some cases come apart, is the heart of the movie. The audience is expected to think and draw their own conclusions and the ending is very satisfying, an emotional confrontation between a father and son.

The cast are flawless as is the script and the quick incisive simultaneous snapshots of different scenes move the story arc forward.

8 out of 10. Not to be missed.
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