Although professional locksmiths generally scoff at the unrealistic ideas about breaking locks and security protocols in Hollywood movies, we are all huge Al Pacino fans. The 74-year-old actor plays a lonely locksmith, Angelo Manglehorn, in his latest movie, recently released at the Venice film festival.
Manglehorn the movie is a portrayal of an ageing ex-conman who now ekes out his living in Texas as he recovers from losing the love of his life, the one that got away. He has the keys to unlock homes and to save a small boy who is locked inside his family car, but when it comes to unlocking his own heart, Manglehorn is at a loss.
The lonely locksmith has nothing and nobody in the world, and much of it is through his own doing. Curdled and grouchy, Manglehorn only cares about his cat, while he avoids showing love to his son, with whom he has intermittent contact. A hermit, he is oblivious as to what is going on in the world around him. He prefers the company of his own broken heart and distances himself from everyone else as he seeks out his one true love.
Manglehorn mourns his lost romance, even when Dawn the bank teller (played by Holly Hunter), coaxes him out on a date. Of course, all he can talk about, is the sad story about his lost love. With the possibility of a new romance, Manglehorn reaches a crossroads between remaining fixated on his lost love and embracing the future. Perhaps the hermit locksmith no longer has to be alone anymore.
The movie is movingly humanistic, and has idiosyncratic humor and unsentimental simplicity. Some critics have said Al Pacino has lost his mojo, but agree that his portrayal of Manglehorn in this new film is on par with some of his best work.
It is hard to remember that Al Pacino really is the actor and not Manglehorn, the role he plays so well. According to the director of the film, David Gordon Green, Pacino had a lot of influence in creating the locksmith’s character, and between takes, the actor and the director would discuss work and life. Both men have twins, and they discussed work-life balance. Green saw Pacino as a kind of a father figure at work.
Pacino also has a very eccentric way of putting together a movie, yet he is also very respectful. Although the movie had a script, Green wanted Pacino to make it his own. Together, they created a movie that truly is the character.
The origin of the locksmith’s name and that of the movie, is fascinating too, as it stems from the time when Green was evacuated from a hurricane by a friend. When Green called a friend to collect him, he said that he was on Mangle Horn Road. The street was purportedly named after a crazy old man who used to live in the street many years ago, Crazy Old Mangle Horn.
When Green met with Pacino about a different movie that did not come together, Mangle Horn stirred in the director’s mind. Green spoke to his neighbor, Paul Logan and suggested the latter write a script for a movie called Manglehorn, featuring Al Pacino and that’s how the locksmith was born.