The Architect is the tale of the Waters family who have everything and aren't happy. Leo Waters (Anthony LaPaglia) is a successful architect and all around good family man and provider, so of course his mentally disturbed wife Julia (Isabella Rossellini), and sexually confused son Martin (Sebastian Stan) hate him. His rapidly developing daughter Christina (Hayden Panettiere) is the only bright note, and she seems crushed by the fact that her family is falling apart. Amidst all this, is the story of some buildings that Waters built that are now unfit to live in. They are in an urban area and this brings in other stories centering on Tonya Neeley (Viola Davis) and her dysfunctional family. In the end, we see these people's lives opened up a little bit, but for the most part The Architect only manages to construct an ill conceived downer of a movie.
The best performances come from LaPaglia and Pannettiere. I honestly didn't see the problem with the Leo Waters character. I didn't feel that he was overbearing and that he was on top of his children. Pannettiere really embodied a young woman caught in those special years where their body is out of control. I bought these character's situations and I couldn't help but feel that ultimately this movie would have worked a lot better had it just focused on these two people. Martin seems to embody that kid who could do anything, chooses to do nothing, and yet continues to revel in his own self destructive contempt. Julia is just a mess and I never felt that we got to the core of what she thought was wrong with her marriage and her life. It was as if she held something against her husband because he had been successful. Maybe if I was married and had children this movie would make more sense to me, but as it stands I just saw disparate lives that I couldn't really relate to at all.
In all honesty, the Tonya Neeley character, and all the characters that make up her world, would have been much better off placed in another movie entirely. It seems as though director Matt Tauber had too much to work with, was trying to make some sort of statement using all these characters, and in the end had nothing because at 82 minutes there just wasn't the time. I thought the look of the film and the music employed was probably the biggest standouts. Tauber knows how to make a film, I just think that indy movies are relying to heavily on the "dysfunctional family" formula nowadays. A tale like this has got to be small. It should be confined to the home. This way we are stuck with the characters, the characters are stuck with each other, and we all have no choice but to deal with one another.
All in all, The Architect doesn't work not because of any one thing, I just don't think you can make a broad movie about a messed up family, without messing up the message you are trying to bring across.