There's a seriously important idea here, and the filmmakers tackle it head on. But the small budget shows in the way the film is shot and edited--scenes seem slapped together and mismatched, performances vary from tight and sardonic to mopey and melodramatic, the variety of filming locations shows (both South Africa and Canada stand in for Florida from time to time). All of this would be fine if the film itself maintained its vision. But while it touches on the manipulative TV and justice systems, the filmmakers focus on the unconvincing personal journey of Assante's character. They also rely on far too many musical montage sequences; there are three of them in the final segment alone, badly undermining the power these scenes might have had. The script toys with TV cliches such as the fact that Assante lives on a boat, or that the viewers chose between three notorious murders (celebrity, religious and racial), which hints at a much smarter satire than we eventually get. It's like the filmmakers lack the inventiveness, skills or, most importantly, the nerve to go for the jugular, like Dan Minahan's superb Series 7 did with similar themes. There's a great film in here trying to get out, and it does occasionally burst forth brilliantly, only to be drowned out eventually in swampy moralising.
dir Philippe Martinez
scr Tony Clarke, Frank Rehwaldt, Kristina Hamilton, Philippe Martinez
with Armand Assante, Jerry Springer, Roy Scheider, Raffaello Degruttola, Justine Mitchell, Dorette Potgieter, Clive Scott, Andre Jacobs, Lynne Blades, Paul Burton Wilson, Brendan Pollecutt, Brett Goldin
release UK 12.Sep.03, US 6.May.05
Get the real story if you can: Assante, Potgeiter and Degruttola
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