The Loft
dir Erik Van Looy
scr Bart De Pauw, Wesley Strick
prd Hilde De Laere, Matt DeRoss, Steve Golin, Paul Green, Adam Shulman
with Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Isabel Lucas, Rachael Taylor, Robert Wisdom, Kristin Lehman, Rhona Mitra, Valerie Cruz, Kali Rocha
release Bel 15.Oct.14, US 30.Jan.15, UK 15.Jun.15
14/Belgium 1h48
The Loft
Partners in crime: Urban, Stonestreet and Miller

marsden schoenaerts taylor
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Loft There's plenty of Hitchcockian style in this heightened thriller, although both the writing and directing constantly reveal an inherently prudish nature, as if the filmmakers were afraid to go for the jugular. There's also a creepy misogynistic undercurrent, along with a preference for superficial twists and turns rather than substance.

When the violently murdered body of a woman is found in their loft, the five married guys who share it as their illicit love-nest go into panic mode. Alpha-male Vincent (Urban), level-headed Chris (Marsden), panicky Luke (Miller), blustery Marty (Stonestreet) and ladies man Philip (Schoenaerts) have the only five keys to the loft, so at least one of them must know what's happened here. Which of course causes them to start bringing out all their dirty laundry to explain it.

A series of one-year-earlier flashbacks establishes the set-up and introduces the guys' wives. And everything is also framed by the interrogations of two cops (Wisdom and Lehman). Put together, the film gradually reveals a tangled mystery, throwing us off the scent with insinuation and red herrings galore. There are dodgy business dealings and two dangerous blondes (Lucas and Taylor), plus gurgling tensions between the men. And every revelation and accusation is followed by an explanatory flashback that drops another piece into the puzzle.

Remaking his own film in English, Belgian director Van Looy cranks up the atmosphere with a feverish orchestral score, arch editing and intense camera angles that sometimes distract from the meaning of the scene and undermine the performances from the solid cast. And the innuendo-packed script is never quite as snappy as it needs to be, mainly because the screenwriters seem to be preoccupied with the tangled web of revelations. So even though it's over-constructed and set up with rather too much detail, there are too many gaps in the plot and far too many melodramatic excesses.

The filmmakers throw the moral issues around, but they never grapple with any of them, simply explaining everything as if that's all there is to it. But this is the kind of story that could be wonderfully shaded, because these men know exactly who they're betraying. Yes, the most interesting aspect is the relationship between the guys, which is packed with intriguing suggestions. So it's rather annoying that the plot is little more than a trashy conspiracy.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 3.May.15

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