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dir David Schwimmer
scr Andy Bellin, Robert Festinger
prd Ed Cathell III, Dana Golomb, Robert Greenhut, Tom Hodges, Avi Lerner, Heidi Jo Markel, David Schwimmer
with Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Liana Liberato, Viola Davis, Noah Emmerich, Jason Clarke, Chris Henry Coffey, Spencer Curnutt, Aislinn DeButch, Zanny Laird, Inga R Wilson, Brandon Molale
release US 1 Apr.11, UK 22.Jul.11
Talk to me: Liberato and Keener
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Even though this film has a deeply disturbing theme, one of the most frightening things about it is the way it continually threatens to turn into a revenge thriller. But the filmmakers have something much more involving - and wrenching - in mind.
Will and Lynn (Owen and Keener) are parents of three lively, independent-minded kids. Peter (Curnutt) is just heading off to university, 14-year-old Annie (Liberato) is starting high school and Katie (DeButch) is still too young to understand much of what happens next. Annie is chatting online with Charlie, a teen in another city who slowly becomes her closest confidant. So she's a bit startled when he confesses that he's 20. Then 25. Then he agrees to meet her and turns out to be closer to 35 (Coffey). But he loves her and makes her feel beautiful.
The film's early scenes are a lively display of healthy family interaction: raucous, funny, engaging. So as Annie falls deeper into this increasingly secretive online relationship, alarm bells go off for us. But not for her. Even after things turn nasty, the filmmakers take the impressively bold step to portray Annie as failing to understand exactly what has happened: she loves Charlie and wants the FBI agent (Clarke) to stop chasing him, and she can't understand why her counsellor (Davis) treats her as if she's been attacked.
This bracingly realistic approach is as deeply unnerving as Annie's encounter with Charlie. And even more intense is the reaction of Annie's parents, during which her dad continues to violate her trust by becoming obsessed with catching the guy. Yes, the title theme is sometimes a little heavy-handed, as everyone's privacy is violated and it takes a long time for someone to do the right thing.
But it feels so honest that we can't take our eyes from the screen. Schwimmer directs with a terrific sense of detail, focussing on the characters' emotional lives and their painful internal journeys as well as the interaction between them. And the performances are remarkable, with Liberato and Owen as standouts. Travelling this journey with them is important, but not easy.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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