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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Mennan Yapo|
scr Bill Kelly
with Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Nia Long, Kate Nelligan, Amber Valletta, Peter Stormare, Shyann McClure, Courtney Taylor Burness, Jude Ciccolella, Marc Macaulay, Marcus Lyle Brown, Irene Ziegler
release US/UK 16.Mar.07
07/US TriStar-MGM 1h50
Dead or alive: Bullock and McMahon
There's an intriguing and involving mystery at the centre of this freak-out psychological thriller, but the script never seems willing to take it anywhere interesting. Instead of cranking up the suspense, the film turns into mush.
Linda (Bullock) is devastated when her husband Jim (McMahon) dies in a car crash, leaving her to care for her young daughters (McClure and Burness), comforted by her mother (Nelligan) and her best friend (Long). But the next morning Linda wakes up to find Jim is alive again. Then the following day he's not. She begins to realise that she's living the week out of order, and maybe she can save him. Although if something was going on with that suspicious blonde (Valetta), perhaps she doesn't want to change history.
Through the first half of the film, the cast and crew build a terrific atmosphere that's both disorienting and enticing. Bullock barely breaks a sweat as a likeable but mopey woman who's not sure if she's dreaming or awake, slowly piecing together the puzzle she's living through as the tension cranks up to the final day in the chronology. A growing sense of déjà vu cleverly whirls around her, as does the feeling that impending doom awaits.
Meanwhile, director Yapo uses vertiginous camerawork to continually punch holes in her reality, and to cover the massively gaping holes in the plot. But eventually these inconsistencies begin to overwhelm us, as people stop behaving sensibly and we develop a disastrous case of the niggles. Then a sinister doctor (Stormare) turns up and, as if that wasn't trite enough, a knowing priest (Ciccolella) arrives to explain Linda's premonitions in banal, simplistic terms. Both of these cliched characters are utterly unnecessary and merely drag the film into a schmaltzy swamp of a final act.
The cast gamely sticks with it right to the end, even thought the supporting actors don't have much to do. But the film never recovers. By the time the final scene in the narrative falls in to place, we really don't care what happens. The filmmakers clearly want to convey something surprisingly serious, but the contrived silliness drowns out any message they might have.
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© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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