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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Joseph Ruben|
scr Gerald Di Pego
with Julianne Moore, Dominic West, Gary Sinise, Anthony Edwards, Alfre Woodard, Linus Roache, Robert Wisdom, Christopher Kovaleski, Jessica Hecht, Kathryn Faughnan, Tim Kang, Ann Dowd
release US 24.Sep.04, UK 26.Nov.04
You must remember this: West and Moore
Stylish, moody, gripping and utterly nonsensical--what else do you expect from the director of Sleeping With the Enemy and the writer of Instinct? But it's never dull and always compelling, simply because we're dying to see how the filmmakers dig themselves out of the hole they're creating.
Telly (Moore) lost her 9-year-old son Sam (Kovaleski in flashbacks) in a plane crash. Her husband (Edwards) is a bit worried that even after a year she won't stop wallowing in grief. Then everything about Sam starts disappearing, and her husband and shrink (Sinise) both tell her she's finally emerging from a mental illness that created false memories of a child never existed. But Telly suspects otherwise, and with another grieving parent (West) she sets out to solve the mystery.
It's a gripping premise, and for a while the film really gets our heads spinning as we try to figure out what could possibly be going on here, especially when X-Files-type Feds get involved, and a mystery man (Roache) starts appearing in suspicious places. And as it crosses the line from believable psychological thriller to gonzo mayhem craziness, we still hope that there might be a logical explanation.
Moore is quite simply far too good for this kind of film and its one-note heroine. She manages to stay on the verge of tears for the entire saga, including fast-paced action scenes and moments of throwaway comedy. And no one does verge-of-tears like Moore! She wins us over immediately; so how can we doubt her sanity? The surrounding cast are also a bit too good, although we quickly figure out who to trust. And Ruben has some jolts up his sleeve that literally leave us gasping!
So it's a pity that the film is both wafer thin and appallingly silly. Themes of letting go and slipping memories are never examined in a meaningful way, while the story gets increasingly unconvincing. But it's still fascinating, combining a seriously emotional core idea with a narrative that gets progressively more ludicrous until you're absolutely dying to know how it could possibly end.
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