Picture Dan in Real Life without the goofy, quirky characters and instead a palpable emotional sincerity. That’s how I think it’s easiest to describe The Vicious Kind. The two films have no other similarities besides one brother falling for the other brother’s girlfriend. I’ll admit, it’s a pretty thin premise, but with the characters that are established over the next 90 minutes, it’s well worth looking into.
Adam Scott plays Caleb, the abrasive brother who falls for the girl. Until now, Adam Scott had been playful and enjoyable to watch, but by the end of the first scene, I was nervous. I mean, there was no question that he was a talented actor, but after a character performs a diatribe against all women, it gets a little hard for me to watch. I just wanted to see if there was something more there. Misogyny has been done before. It’s even been done well (not, like it’s a good thing, but it’s been portrayed by actors well) but once again, that can’t sustain a movie. It was when the movie begins to get to the core of this character, his misogyny, his narcissism, his abrupt and awkward social interactions, that it becomes noticeable that the first scene discounts so much of what this man is about. The slow and calculated unveiling of a character isn’t a very appreciated way of doing things these days in most mainstream movies (people want moral certainty, for the most part) so The Vicious Kind never found much of an audience. Nevertheless, Scott’s performance alone is worth watching.
The woman in question is Emma, played by a raven-haired Brittany Snow. I was a little alarmed at the casting, but I’d seen her in the TV show “American Dreams” so I knew she was capable. I was honestly floored by her performance. Her interaction with the character of Caleb is uncomfortable and tense, but there’s so much more to it than that. It’s very understated and subtle in the way that her relationships are established, but watching the way she plays off of these other people is amazing. Rounding out the cast is J.K. SImmons as an absent father to Caleb, who glorifies his other son, Peter. I found myself wanting more of the relationship between Caleb and his father, but the movie makes it clear that by the end of the film, their story is far from finished.
The Vicious Kind isn’t a perfect movie. In fact, it’s an ugly movie. Most of these people aren’t people that you would want to meet, but the fact of the matter is that they’re human. They’re dimensional in a way that I’ve rarely seen. Stand-out performances from Adam Scott and the rest of the cast make The Vicious Kind the understated character drama that it is, and well worth watching.