Andrew Renzi‘s The Benefactor (formerly Franny) has been on the festival circuit since debuting last April at the Tribeca Film Festival. I blew an opportunity to see it last night at the Key West Film Festival because (a) it hasn’t been well reviewed, (b) I have a prejudice against dramas in which the inciting incident is a car crash, and (c) I wanted to attend the big KWFF party at Ernest Hemingway’s old home instead. But you have to admit that white-haired Richard Gere looks awesome with that big red scarf looped around that natty tuxedo. Samuel Goldwyn will release this character-driven drama about grief (another one!) and obsession on 1.25.16.
From John DeFore’s 4.18.15 Hollywood Reporter review: “We all have one: That old family friend who dotes on us shamelessly, buying us houses and paying off student loans, beaming whenever we enter a room. They’re the worst, right?
“Andrew Renzi explores the worrisome side of Uncle Warbucks in The Benefactor, where Richard Gere plays a billionaire suffering addictions not just to morphine but to others’ attention and his own privilege. It’s easy to understand the actor’s interest in the part, in which charm, Gere’s bedrock asset, is a thin shell whose protection chips away painfully. But Renzi’s uneven script makes this a less sturdy vehicle than 2012’s Arbitrage, and a less marketable one given the absence of thriller elements that sustained that film’s character study. Still, there’s plenty here for Gere’s admirers to appreciate.
“For five years, Gere’s Franny has been holed up in a luxury hotel, drinking cocktails of pain-killers he was originally prescribed after an accident that killed his two best friends and left him hobbled. Olivia (Dakota Fanning), the only child of those friends and a surrogate daughter to the bachelor, moved away to cope with her grief; when she returns to town an expectant mother and new bride, Franny leaps on the opportunity to feel alive again.”