Most people agree, though, that the film is very much a triumph for Matt Damon, who really excels in the role of Mark Whitacre, a biochemist working with a company that produces corn derivatives used by food manufacturers.
The brilliance of Damon’s performance – and, consequently, the pleasure of the film – lies in the fact that Whitacre is by turn a lot smarter and a lot dumber than people take him for.
We never quite gauge the reliability of his narration until the final reel; not unlike his otherwise wholly different turn in “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” he reveals the psychological cracks in the makeup of the American everyman so incrementally that you hardly notice until it’s too late. Aided by a deadpan comic fluidity the actor has never controlled so comfortably, it’s the finest work of his career.
Soderbergh first talked to Damon about doing the role seven years ago. They did three other movies in the meantime.
In Soderbergh's words: "Seven years of foreplay and then a quickie."
"Steven's theory on comedy is you make sure the screenplay is perfect, and then you shoot the actual production really, really fast," Damon said. "So that is what we did. We stewed on the script for seven years, and then shot this film in 30-something days."
"Some days we were shooting eight pages -- almost a TV schedule. Steven cuts the film in his head as he is shooting. The only other director I know who does that is Clint Eastwood," Damon said.
It is a rare turn in the spotlight for the normally reserved Mr. Rogers. As the curtain rises on the Toronto International Film Festival this week, the most sought-after ticket in town will have nothing to do with the festival itself. Instead, it will be the private gala he hosts at his Forest Hill home to raise money for One X One (pronounced “one by one”).
Bill Clinton will attend, Elvis Costello will perform, and a who's who of Corporate Canada, from Research In Motion co-chief executive officer Jim Balsillie to Toronto-Dominion Bank deputy chairman Frank McKenna will rub shoulders with the likes of Mr. Damon and musician Wyclef Jean, who are the faces of One X One internationally.