The Fanatic (2019)
Director (co-writer): Fred Durst
Cast: John Travolta, Devon Sawa, Ana Golja, Jacob Grodnik, James Paxton, Josh Richman, Jessica Uberuaga, Marta Gonzalez Rodin
It was a really nice opportunity to see the advanced screening of The Fanatic at Fan Expo Canada before its limited release on August 30th. Suffice to say that past a certain point, John Travolta’s films haven’t quite been on my radar or just haven’t quite peaked my interest. The most recent film that I saw of his probably was The Taking of Pelham 123 and I don’t remember liking that one a lot. However, The Fanatic was one that as a group, all of three of us did want to go see but kept our expectations fairly neutral especially for myself, since I hadn’t researched much about it in the first place.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about The Fanatic. Its a thriller about an autistic fan called Moose, played by John Travolta who finds an opportunity to meet his favorite horror film actor Hunter Dunbar, played by Devon Sawa. However, it becomes a missed opportunity due to bad timing and gets rejected. In the effort to try to get it, he asks for a friend Leia, played by Ana Golja who introduces him to a star house hunting app where he manages to find the address and goes over and over again, hoping to finally get the autograph being shot down each time until he “nukes the boundaries” (quoted from the movie).
There’s no doubt that John Travolta is a great actor and in this role as he portrays a autistic man and a hardcore movie fan, he does a great job. I’m sure any role like this will garner some kind of criticism but for myself, its the awkward moments and the whole idea that in his mind, he doesn’t realize how far he had gone over the boundaries that makes it more poignant to watch (as the audience reaction seemed to reflect as well). Moose is a really great character in that sense and its a role that I’ve never seen John Travolta play and creates a contrast in his filmography. The performances of The Fanatic make the movie thrilling possibly and seems a bit of a character study especially for Moose as most of the time is spent with him however, Hunter Dunbar is done well with Devon Sawa who really is the victim here but his strong personality turns himself into a bully of sorts and doesn’t give him a lot to sympathize.
Overall, The Fanatic has its pros and cons. Its strengths are in its characters and actors ability to excel in the two leading roles here. The script also tries to capture the details to sculpt a clever twist ending which didn’t quite work in my case but for my husband who didn’t remember a little detail might have been more shocking. It has its thrills and thriller elements but its a lot more of a drama and puts a lot to question about the society as sometimes unjust things happen and unexplained things also occur and those who are in the spotlight will have these situations happen and the difficulty of defining the right and wrong of it all. Is it a great film? Not exactly but there’s an indie element here to give it some depth to ponder at least.