A review coming up for this just as soon as I put on my overalls…
I had a friend who would always call himself something, as if just saying it out loud made it real. For example, you may run into him one day and ask him what he’s doing now. “I make music videos” he’ll say. Just like that, he’s become a music video director. He would call himself a writer by virtue of the fact that he jotted a few things down in a notepad, or a film maker just because he bought a Handycam.
I was reminded of this friend when I watched Overnight, the documentary about Troy Duffy. Duffy wrote and directed a sub-Tarantino knockoff called The Boondock Saints, and at the time made a big splash in the movie world. As the film starts we’re treated to the following tale. Miramax, who at the time could do no wrong, bought up Duffy’s script for close to a million dollars. Duffy also got Miramax to agree to buy the bar he was working at, and to let his band do the soundtrack for the film. We see Duffy being interviewed, hanging out with Mark Whalberg (Who wants to know where Duffy gets all his great ideas from. It’s possible he’s stoned at the time) and having his picture taken for the cover pages of trade magazines. Duffy is all talk, he talks about how great his film is, he talks about how great his band is and he talks about how he’s someone who’s here to stay. None of those things are true.
Duffy is like my friend, only this time someone has been stupid enough to give him ten million dollars and told him to make good on his promise. Instead Duffy takes to partying – a lot – and generally berating people who don’t share the view that he’s the second coming.
Slowly we watch as things start to collapse in horrifying fashion. To hear Duffy tell it, every actor in Hollywood is clamouring over his script, so much so that we watch him trash a few Hollywood names (Ethan Hawke is “Talentless“, Keanu Reeves is “A punk – he’ll never be in my movies“) while he holds out for names like Kenneth Branagh (Who Duffy calls a “Cunt” when Branagh has the gall to let his answering machine do its job). He also hopes to become drinking buddies with Ewan McGregor, but curiously we’re never shown the results of that meeting. According to lore, McGregor and Duffy met as Miramax were thinking of using the film as a starring vehicle to the then new-in-Hollywood Scot. The two got into a debate about the death penalty with McGregor taking his concerns about Duffy in general back to Miramax.
There has been some concern (Mostly from Duffy himself) that he was misrepresented in the film, and the makers were out to get him. Conversely the makers of the documentary were also the co-managers of Duffy’s band. It’s entirely possible of course, he wouldn’t be the first person misrepresented for the purposes of a narrative (See also; The King of Kong). But whatever way you look at it, Duffy still said those things, he was just stupid enough to do it while people were filming.
“Harvey Weinstein is scared of me” – Troy Duffy
Harvey Weinstein is an old school Hollywood mogul. The boisterous, cigar-chomping kind of mogul. Early on in the film we learn that Miramax doesn’t want anything to do with Duffy and the film anymore, much to Duffy’s chagrin. Of course to hear Duffy tell it it’s because Duffy is too real for them. He’s the working class Boston kid who was able to stand toe-to-toe with the Hollywood elite, and they didn’t like that. Not once does Duffy consider the fact that his actions were speaking for themselves and Miramax were simply trying to avert disaster. Even after contacting other companies who initially bid on the script, Duffy still doesn’t seem to get the fact that he’s, to put it mildly, being an asshole. While Duffy and his cohorts are convinced Weinstein is out to get them, I don’t think that’s really the case. Still there’s a bizarre scene where, after a premiere of the film, a car almost runs Duffy down. There’s the strong implication that is was an attempt on Duffy’s life by Weinstein, which is patently ridiculous. It’s unlikely Weinstein ever really thought about Duffy once he was done with the film (It went on to be made with independent financiers for half the budget Duffy was originally offered) and it’s even more idiotic that Weinstein would do it so publically.
Overnight offers a fascinating view of a man who burns his bridges before the foundations are even laid down while dragging down the people around him. It’s scary to think what would’ve happened had the Miramax deal gone through and the film was a hit (As it is the film is a cult hit, though the sequel is a poor imitation of an already lacklustre film). As it is Duffy was literally presented with the dream of every aspiring film maker and instead of recognising that he grabbed it with two hands and fucked it. Hard.