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Review by Rich Cline |
dir Michael M Scott
scr David Golden
prd Stephanie Slack, Margret H Huddleston
with Camila Mendes, Jessie T Usher, Jamie Chung, Cam Gigandet, Elliott Gould, Sasha Alexander, Michael P Northey, Garfield Wilson, Sean Owen Roberts, Nick Purcha, Trevor Lerner, Joe Costa
release US/UK 30.Apr.20
20/Canada Netflix 1h37
There's a trashy charm to this corny thriller, in which a happy young couple find themselves in the middle of a threatening situation. Director Michael Scott wastes little time before starting to drop sinister hints, but they're so unsubtle that they undermine the script's attempts to create a shadowy noir atmosphere. Meanwhile, the scenario relies on too many conveniences to hold water. But it's handsome, easily watchable rubbish.
After Adam (Usher) thwarts a violent robbery, his marriage to Katie (Mendes) becomes increasingly stressful, because he can't find a job. And she won't accept help from the ageing Leonard (Gould), whom she works for as a carer. When Leonard dies, Adam and Katie find a stash of cash in his attic. Feeling like this solves their money problems, they hide it somewhere safe. Then Leonard's lawyer Julia (Chung) announces that Katie is his sole heir. But people are watching them, including a tenacious detective (Alexander), Katie's boss (Northey) and the increasingly shady Mickey (Gigandet).
"I'm just sick of being poor," Adam says, offering a morsel of present-day resonance in this young couple's economic pinch. Otherwise, the writing and directing work overtime to convince us that Adam is up to something, willing to sidestep the law and relax into a life of unearned wealth. Then things begin to twist further with the discovery of a body and a bag of diamonds. Soon Katie is suspecting everyone around her, with good reason.
It's so obvious that certain characters shouldn't be trusted that the audience smells a rat. Most suspicious Mendes' Katie, who is too much of a straight arrow: she can't possibly be this innocent when everyone around her is so dodgy. By contrast, Usher gives Adam such a slippery personality that he begins to feel like a red herring. Gigandet merely offers effective snarling and glowering, while Chung and Alexander have some fun in steel-eyed roles.
While David Gordon's screenplay raises a series of moral questions, it never deals with them. This makes the movie feel oddly vacuous, as Adam and Katie don't struggle as they respond to each of the conundrums they face. For example, Adam continually vows not to let anyone take this newfound life away, happy to do whatever it takes, no matter how unethical or illegal, and Katie silently goes along. And in the end, after all of the clues scattered through the script, the climactic series of revelations and confrontations feel both simplistic and unsatisfying.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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