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dir Ira Sachs
scr Ira Sachs, Oren Moverman
with Chris Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Patricia Clarkson, Rachel McAdams, David Wenham, Annabel Kershaw, David Richmond-Peck, Erin Boyes, Sheila Paterson, Timothy Webber, Terence Kelly, Elijah St Germain
release US 7.Mar.08, UK 1.Aug.08
07/Canada Kimmel 1h27
There's somethign about Harry: Cooper and McAdams
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Thought-provoking themes swirl around in this drama, brought to life by a skilled cast and a director who plays with Hitchcockian themes and imagery. In the end, it feels a bit undercooked, but the actors keep us glued to the screen.
Harry (Cooper) is a businessman who confesses to his best pal Richard (Brosnan) that he's planning to leave his wife Pat (Clarkson) for his mistress Kay (McAdams). But while Harry is agonising over how to extricate himself from his marriage, even considering murder, Richard is figuring out how to steal the seductive Kay for himself. And when he discovers a secret involving a playboy writer (Wenham), he makes his move.
Director-cowriter Sachs soaks the film in the rhythms of 1949 suburban America, probing attitudes and actions in a repressed culture in which happiness is the only acceptable expression of life while all the dark truths remain unspoken. Even if someone stumbles across them. The period is evoked with a detailed production design that echoes this central theme, plus camerawork that harks back to movies of the time, with languorous takes and striking tableaux.
Into this, Cooper, Brosnan and especially Clarkson deliver intriguingly askance performances that are constantly hiding things. Although Harry is far too jittery to hide anything very well, and Cooper spends most of the film with guilt written all over his face. And then there's McAdams, who is transformed to look exactly like Grace Kelly, from platinum hair-dos to stylish gowns. She just about carries this off, even if she lacks Kelly's wit and spark. Kay is a far more timid and pliable creature than Kelly ever played, especially in a Hitchcock film.
And really, what we have here is a kind of homage to the master of suspense. There's serious tension as Harry plots to kill his wife, even as he's torn up about it and as events he doesn't know about conspire to play the bleakest ironic tricks on him. So it's a slight shame that the film never quite boils over into an over-the-top frenzy. But then, covering over the real inner turmoil is perhaps more appropriate for this time and place.
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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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