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dir Declan Dale
scr Gee Malik Linton
prd Robin Gurland, Keanu Reeves, Gee Malik Linton
with Ana de Armas, Keanu Reeves, Mira Sorvino, Christopher McDonald, Big Daddy Kane, Venus Ariel, Michael Rispoli, Gabriel Vargas, Laura Gomez, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Jeanette Dilone, Denia Brache
release US 22.Jan.16, UK 26.Feb.16
16/US Lionsgate 1h42
Do I see dead people? Armas
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With its surreal touches and dangling narrative strands, this edgy and dark drama is freaky enough to hold the interest. But the storytelling is so evasive that it becomes increasingly frustrating. In some ways the messy structure is the film's most intriguing aspect, because it's not easy to predict where it's going. But it's also difficult to connect with anything or anyone.
Even though his boss (McDonald) wants to bury the case, Detective Galban (Reeves) is investigating the murder of his partner on a New York Subway platform. Day care worker Isabel (Armas) was there and witnessed something extraordinary, and now thinks she can see angels, perhaps hinting that either her husband (Cordova) in Iraq or her young student Elisa (Ariel) is in danger. Then she discovers that she's pregnant, which isn't actually possible. And Galban is worried because everyone connected to the case is dying one by one.
The opening sequence is seriously unsettling, following young confident woman alone in the Subway as she thinks about her husband, loses her wedding ring, breaks a heel heel and then sees something impossible. The plot is packed with odd coincidences and awkward conversations, as scenes are truncated and jarringly juxtaposed. Death seems to swirl relentlessly around these characters. Director Dale gives a lot of attention to suggestive props and side characters that clearly are meant to mean something.
Armas is engaging in the central role, especially with all of the mystery and death surrounding her. Her expressive eyes go a long way in holding the audience's sympathies long after patience runs out. Reeves is in his usual muted mode as the tightly coiled Galban, who has plenty of issues in his under-explored back-story. He kind of just soldiers through these events without much connection to anyone or anything. Sorvino is on a scene-chomping rampage as the dead cop's emotive widow.
But the film's choppy style is difficult to engage with, as scenes simply don't last long enough to pull the audience in. And answers are elusive. The intrigue holds the attention, but at the point where the filmmakers should start revealing their secrets, they instead muddle things further with scenes that clearly can't be what they seem to be and hints that there's a bigger story just out of sight. So when the filmmakers finally decide to (over) explain the conundrum, it's clever but it feels like a cheat.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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