R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Jonathan Glazer
scr Jean-Claude Carriere, Milo Addica, Jonathan Glazer
with Nicole Kidman, Cameron Bright, Danny Huston, Lauren Bacall, Arliss Howard, Alison Elliott, Anne Heche, Peter Stormare, Ted Levine, Cara Seymour, Zoe Caldwell, Milo Addica
release US/UK 5.Nov.04
New Line
04/US 1h40

The disturbed couple: Huston and Kidman


kidman huston bacall
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Birth British filmmaker Glazer goes about as far from his comical crime thriller Sexy Beast as he can with this lyrical psychological drama set in New York. It's beautifully made and very well-acted, tantalising us with its central mystery even if it's rather mopey and dull.

Ten years after Anna (Kidman) became a widow, she finally finds love with Joseph (Huston), a match approved by her mother (Bacall) and sister (Elliott). Then a strange 10-year-old boy (Bright) appears claiming to be Anna's late husband Sean. And he knows far too many intimate details for this to be a hoax. So has Anna really gotten over her husband's death and moved on with Joseph? Or is she tempted to run off with this kid?

Glazer and gifted cinematographer Harris Savides film this like a dark dream--with greyed-out shades of gold washing across the posh Manhattan apartments where Anna and her family live. Despite the relentless warmth, the film has a chilled, otherworldly feel that creates an almost gothic horror mood, even though the film never generates enough energy to be called a thriller.

The mood is so subdued and internal that it would never work at all without such intriguing performances. Kidman gurgles with emotion from the moment young Sean appears, yet she feels beguilingly icy. We never really feel her pain, but we certainly see it seeping out. Meanwhile, the ensemble around her is excellent, with Bright and Heche challenging each other for the creep-out prize (Heche wins, simply because the superb Bright has already done the eerie kid thing in Butterfly Effect and Godsend).

This is a sumptuous film--it looks as gorgeous as Alexandre Desplat's orchestral score sounds. But Glazer keeps it so still and quiet that we grow impatient with his pretentious pacing. The humour is wry. Long takes of Kidman's emotive face are fascinatingly unnerving, but they bring things to a halt. And even when it features a moment of joy, the film has a bleak edge to it. As the mystery grows, so does our interest ... and we really long for Glazer to run with it. But that never happens.

cert 15 themes, language, sex 18.Oct.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Birth joy, woking: "Kidman with a Peter Pan look. Walked out after 1/2 hour, a first. Slow pace made you impatient for action. Actions speak louder than words? Not on this occasion. Big names drew attention." (7.Nov.04)

Robert, New York: 2.5/5 "Nicole Kidman was fantastic in this intruiging drama. However, the film seems incomplete. And therefore, it left me somewhat unsatisfied." (16.Nov.04)

Akilis, net: 5/5 "One of my favourites of the year. I absolutely loved it. Reactions to this love story will very much depend on how you see love or what it means to you. It's pretty much based on the saying 'the more you look the less you see' - you pick up a piece of paper, you say it is blank even though there are about 33 lines running across it. The acting is splendid on all fronts. Bright had the very difficult task of being a man - the movie hinges on his actions and he did a credible job. Huston was great, and Nicole played this role magnificently (is it me or is she better off in fares like this where there is no worry of putting off the mainstream and how much money the movie makes?) - her body language and emotional availability are incredible. This is the best performance of the year for me, plus Dogville. The movie as a whole captivated me; I love the dialogue, the little there is, and there are very many great scenes. I also love the score and the song in the closing credits. A marvellous movie." (15.Dec.04)

2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall