Sitting down to watch Durant’s Never Closes, chances are nobody in the theater will have any idea who Jack Durant even is. The more time we spend with the title character of Travis Mills’ film, though, the more we want to soak him up like a sponge. He’s not a guy we’d necessarily want to work for or be in a relationship with. However, he’s certainly somebody we’d want to follow around for a while and grab a drink with. That’s exactly what the audience gets to do in Durant’s Never Closes.
Tom Sizemore’s tough guy person is perfectly tailored to capture the spirit of Jack Durant, a real-life restaurant owner based in Phoenix who allegedly had ties to the mob. It’s never made clear whether or not Jack was actually involved in the world of crime, but he likely went through life carrying a fair deal of guilt on his shoulders. The film portrays Jack as a complicated man who can’t be pinned down. Short tempered and unpredictable, he had difficulty maintaining a long-lasting human connection. At the same time, Jack could strike up a conversation with a total stranger with ease.
Some people may tell you that Jack was a total SOB. Others may tell you that he was actually a nice guy. All that can be said for sure about Jack is that he poured his entire soul into his restaurant. Since the restaurant never closes, Jack almost never seems to leave. The only thing he might have cherished more than his restaurant was his dog, who was left Jack’s house and annual allowance in his will.
Durant’s Never Closes avoids the conventions of a straightforward biopic and doesn’t abide to a three-act structure. The film is something of a dreamlike experience that follows Jack from one short story to another. He yells at his employees over a piece of lettuce on the floor, gets a visit from his eye doctor, reminisces with one of his ex-wives, and that’s pretty much it. While the scene traditions can feel random much of the time, this is actually quite fitting given the sporadic nature of our protagonist.
Many could argue that Durant’s Never Closes is unfocused and all over the place. However, the film never loses sight of its subject matter: Jack and the restaurant that’s either become his own personal safe haven or his own personal hell. Even when Jack seemingly isn’t doing anything significant, he’s just such a cool guy to watch. Granted, it would have been nice if the film dug a little deeper and took more of a stance on Jack. On the whole, though, Director Mills delivers a unique, atmospheric character study that’s thoroughly intriguing.