Will Ferrell gives a wonderfully understated performance in this solid, uplifting indie drama. Just don’t expect the usual Ferrell mainstays – there is none of his usual manic defiance or constant yelling. Instead we get a measured and heartfelt portrayal of a man who has lost everything.
Nick Halsey (Ferrell) has just been fired after putting in 16 long years at a company and comes home to find that his wife has locked him out of their house and deposited all of his belongings on the front lawn. Not only that, but she’s cut off access to his credit cards and his work has repossessed the company car. Nick, previously a recovering alcoholic, quickly turns to beer and ends up living on the lawn in his recliner, with nowhere else to go.
Everything Must Go is a downbeat drama with moments of comedy. The occasional Ferrell pratfalls pop up here and there, but this is the most subtle we’ve seen him since his rise to fame. His performance is so good that it occurs to me that Ferrell could easily manage a ‘serious’ film more often in his career, as he did once before in Stranger Than Fiction.
Ferrell is capably assisted by the talents of Rebecca Hall, Michael Peña, Laura Dern and Christopher C.J. Wallace, who orbit around him in varying capacities. Hall is particularly excellent in the role of first time mum and Nick’s new neighbour. Dan Rush’s direction means that the film never gets maudlin or depressing, nor does it get distracted by playing things purely for laughs.
The Blu-ray presentation itself is nothing to write home about. This isn’t a big budget, glossy production, so niggling little things like pixellation on the opening titles are a little distracting. It’s a ‘vanilla’ release too, only including a trailer, but it otherwise gets the job done.
Everything Must Go doesn’t set its sights too high – there’s nothing revelatory on show here – but it is a heartfelt and sincere drama that questions that which we hold dear, and explores those moments when you stop and look at the state of your life – where it’s been and where it’s going. If you usually can’t stand Ferrell (and I sometimes feel this way), then I suggest you take a look at his work here, because it gives an indication of his true potential outside of high concept, crowd-pleasing comedies.
Everything Must Go is out now on Blu-ray and DVD from Madman.Rating: