Obviously with an all-star cast, acting is not a problem for the film. Everyone plays their role superbly, although the purpose of such roles are not clearly defined. At times funeral director Frank Quinn (played by Bill Murray) seems a bit out of place. With that said he adds a lightness to the film, which would border on too dark without it. Juxtaposed with the humor is a taught drama involving an ambiguous fire, the films first frames, setting up an intriguing mystery involving the self forced exile of Felix Bush.
Also, with a skilled cinematographer like Schneider the overall look of the film is not only consistent, but beautifully accurate, especially when it comes to the tone of a movie set in the 1930’s. The problem is, there are shots interjected that serve no purpose, introducing storylines that aren’t developed, leading the audience in a mulitiude of directions, only to backtrack them to the main plot moments later by sweeping entire sideplots (or at least what seems like sideplots), under the rug.
Had I gone into the film looking for a comedy I would have been sorely dissapointed, and likewise would I have left upset if I was looking for an Oscar worthy drama. But going in with an open mind, what I got was a middle of the road film leaning closer to the exceptional end of the spectrum than the turkey end.