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dir Jennifer Lynch
scr Jennifer Lynch, Kent Harper
with Bill Pullman, Julia Ormond, Pell James, Ryan Simpkins, Michael Ironside, Kent Harper, Cheri Oteri, Hugh Dillon, Mac Miller, French Stewart, Charlie Newmark, Caroline Aaron
release UK 6.Mar.09, US 26.Jun.09
Stopping to help: James and Miller
CANNES FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Packed with suggestive and offbeat touches, this clever thriller pieces together a horrific crime from a series of unreliable witnesses. And the result is both fascinating and scary.
Agents Hallaway and Anderson (Pullman and Ormond) sweep into an isolated police station, taking over the investigation from the local captain (Ironside) and quickly putting the chucklehead cops in their place. There seem to only be three survivors of a vicious, violent tragedy: a young woman (James) who's clearly a junkie, a young girl (Simpkins) who seems almost eerily observant, and an injured officer (Harper) who's not telling the whole story. Piecing together what really happened isn't going to be easy when everyone seems to bending the truth.
Drawing on her father's creepy-realism style of filmmaking, Lynch assembles the story through the police interrogations, flashing back to get glimpses of a roadside incident that gets increasingly complicated with every added detail. And each scene is charged with an emotional undercurrent that gets under our skin even though we don't yet understand what's going on. All of this combines into an overpowering sense of dread that's remarkably effective. It also helps cover over some of the plot cheats (such as an unheard whisper or people who seem to vanish).
With characters this enigmatic, the actors have plenty to work with. Pullman is increasingly unhinged and jittery, while Ormond seems to be dealing with some potent internal horror. Harper and Stewart are terrific as the bored cops who seriously cross the line in a way that's both evil and funny. Everyone makes his or her character so shady that we can't trust anyone, especially as the film twists and turns itself until the rather nutty final puzzle piece falls into place.
It's all a bit too ludicrous to hold water, but getting to the end is thoroughly entertaining. Lynch keeps the tone moody and quirky, with witty asides and a realistic sense of unpredictable violence. And the fractured narrative gives her a chance to really play with our expectations, although she kind of has her cake while eating it too: provocatively exploring the dark side of human nature while indulging in fairly unspeakable grisliness herself.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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