Cobbler: Adam Sandler as Shoe Repairman

The Cobbler, a film about a shoe repairman able to step into the lives of his customers, can’t be easily classified..

“I don’t even know what to compare it to,” director Tom McCarthy said. “It’s got its own vibe and its own feel. There are moments of real drama and it’s also broader and funnier. It’s a lot of different flavors.”

The picture may defy categorization, but its magical plotline is totally unlike the small-scale dramas that McCarthy made his name creating, films such as “Win Win” and “The Visitor” that centered on loners and down-on-their luck men.

“It is a departure,” said McCarthy. “It was always about how I approach(ed) it through my lens, because it does move in and out of various genres.”

“The Cobbler” is premiering Thursday at the fest; Voltage is repping the film internationally, while WME and Gersh are handling domestic sales. Entertainment One has Canadian distribution rights.

Star Adam Sandler’s involvement, as well as an eclectic cast that includes Steve Buscemi, Ellen Barkin, Dustin Hoffman and Cliff “Method Man” Smith, has made it a hot ticket.

Sandler, of course, is associated with big, broad, mainstream studio comedies such as “Happy Gilmore,” “Grown Ups” and his latest, “Blended,” and has rarely stepped outside that genre (although his turn in Paul Thomas Anderson’s drama “Punch-Drunk Love” gave audiences a good look at his dramatic acting chops), but McCarthy said he always envisioned the actor for the part of a lonely cobbler in his indie film.

When it comes to Sandler’s onscreen persona as a low-key doofus, appearances are deceiving, the director said.

“The guy works so hard, but he makes it look like he’s not working,” McCarthy said. “He digs into the material. He discusses it and he keeps turning it over.”

Next up for McCarthy is “Spotlight” with Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Michael Keaton. It’s another change of pace for the shapeshifting director: it’s the story of the Boston Globe’s exposure of a sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

Cinematic shapeshifting is at play in “The Cobbler,” as well, although it’s of a more cautionary variety.

“It’s about the grass being always greener and that you don’t really know what a person is like until you have the opportunity to walk in their shoes,” McCarthy said.

Please read our reviews of other Tom McCarthy films.