Written by: Matt Patti | October 21st, 2021
The Estate (James Kapner, 2020) 2½ out of 4 stars.
A film with awkward characters placed in ludicrous situations, director James Kapner’s The Estate is an intriguing movie that pushes the line of absurdity but never quite crosses it. It introduces us to George (Chris Baker), a young twenty-something gay man who lives in an exquisite mansion with his stepmother Lux (Eliza Coupe) and his rich father Marcello (Eric Roberts, Inherent Vice), who is more often out and about cheating on Lux than at home. While George and Lux physically live in a luxurious household, they are actually not very well-off, as Marcello shares none of his income with them and forces them to fend for themselves. Appalled at that idea, and possessing a mutual deep hatred for Marcello, George and Lux decide to hire a hitman to take him out, in hopes that his grand fortune will seamlessly pass down to them. Unfortunately for George and Lux, Marcello’s will is more complex than what they’d imagined, and certain other offspring of his exist of which they have no knowledge. Now, Lux and George are forced to make insane decision after insane decision in order to gain their inheritance.
The Estate is equal parts dark comedy and thriller, and the two mesh together well here. The hilarious characters and awkward situations they find themselves in lend well to the humor of the film, but The Estate still contains enough tense situations and suspenseful scenes to keep the viewer on edge. The greatest strength of the film, though, is its main cast. Baker perfectly plays a sassy, devious young man who is more dangerous than one would initially think, and Coupe shines as the sexy, seductive Lux who takes any action necessary to gain what she believes is her rightful wealth. The two play off of each other effortlessly and their chemistry is strong.
The Estate also has many unexpected twists and turns that grow more and more improbable as the film goes on. This works well for humor and shock value, but some of the twists feel a bit forced and nonsensical. Furthermore, some events feel very random, at times, and don’t necessarily lead anywhere. Another aspect of the film that doesn’t quite work for me is the ease with which George and Lux accomplish many of their goals. The film is very fast-paced, and therefore some solutions come quick and easy without much struggle or conflict. Finally, some of the jokes and dialogue sometimes do not hit the mark, but that’s to be expected with almost any outrageous comedy.
Overall, The Estate is a strange film but it works. Some folks may be turned off by the sheer lewd and sexually provocative nature of the film, along with its very in-your-face dialogue, and I wouldn’t blame them. But, for me at least, I think those elements work for the story and I feel that the film never reaches an undesirable level of absurdity, though it occasionally comes quite close. The Estate, also, as obnoxious and outlandish as it is, does have some social commentary thrown in there as well about money and greed and the expectations of society. In the end, it reminds us of the lengths that some people may go and the very egregious acts they may perform in order to gain wealth and status.