Is it possible to know another person, or oneself for that matter? What is identity? These are the puzzles of Amateur. Hal Hartley, the director and writer, is in no hurry to solve them. He's more interested in taking you for a ride.
Now that's not meant derisively. It's just that this movie is a lot more fun than most movies with metaphysical subject matter. Amateur is drenched in irony, but it doesn't throw it in your face and demand that you react to it. It has a fair amount of dark and rather bitter humor. There's a fellow who isn't killed by the improvised shock treatment of a lamp cord to the temples, but who never quite recovers from it either. He spends the rest of the movie staggering around, shooting people and looking like Christopher Lloyd. The pacing is on the slow side, but the movie's never dull or uninvolving.
So what is identity anyway? Does your behavior define you, or is the self something less ephemeral, more immutable? Who is Hal Hartley and where does he get off posing questions like these in a motion picture? Doesn't he know the movies are supposed to be entertainment?