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A life worth living

Auggie Rose explores identity

Wouldn't it suck if you suddenly died one day and no one else even noticed? Now what if some random guy took over your life and the world didn't skip a beat? Perhaps if you were some high-falootin' celebrity constantly bathing in the limelight, it'd be more difficult for another person to impersonate you. But if you were just a Mr. Joe Nobody, it would be easy, right?

Such is the stuff of the movie Auggie Rose, a sweet, quiet pondering on the meaning of identity, fate and happiness. For such an unassuming film, it explores pretty high-minded concepts; it is a good thing its principal actors and two main assets, Jeff Goldblum and Anne Heche, are so talented. So talented that they pull the whole plot together, transforming what could have easily been a failed attempt at melodramatic cinematic philosophizing into an accessible story simply about two people searching for contentment.

Goldblum plays John C. Nolan, an intense, fast-talking salesman selling life insurance to paranoid yuppies. One day he witnesses an armed robbery that changes his whole life: a hapless store clerk named Auggie Rose (Kim Coates) is killed. To his thin-lipped, tight-faced live-in girlfriend Carol (Nancy Travis) and his colleagues, it seems as if good ol' Johnny's gone off the deep end; he becomes obsessed with Mr. Rose's past and how close he himself came to his own demise. His friends are all "very concerned" yet no one wants to actually listen to what he's saying for more than two-minutes. Then the perky, pixie-like Lucy (Heche) enters John's insipid life and things get all warm and fuzzy. The only catch is that she's under the false impression that he is Auggie, her pen pal lover to whom she began writing while he served time in prison. Disillusioned with his safe upper-middle class lifestyle, John begins to impersonate the ex-con and starts to cherish the little things in life--baths, sandwiches and sucking face with other people's girlfriends.

Despite the slow, steady pace of Auggie Rose, there are a few great side characters and one or two poignant scenes to spice it up. In one such scene, John visits Auggie's former cell mate, a seasoned car thief, in jail and as a favor sets off his car alarm which allows the aging con to once again feel free. Auggie's neighbor Emanuel (Joe Santos) is part of the soul of the film while the police officer assigned to the case, Decker (Richard T. Jones) is its Big Daddy and Charlie (Rose's beloved parrot) is the house pet. There is no real reason why these people/animals should be in the movie. (If it were a novel, they’d be edited out.) But their presence adds a depth and sense of support to a somewhat shaky story.

Writer and director Matthew Tabak makes his directorial debut with this feature and although it is a bit lacking in feasibility and action, he is fortunate enough to have assembled a talented cast that can pull the whole shtick together.


Auggie Rose
Rated R
1 hour 43 minutes

Jeff Goldblum
Anne Heche
Kim Coates
Nancy Travis
Joe Santos
Richard T. Jones