dir Luis Mandoki
scr Gerald DiPego
with Jennifer Lopez, James Caviezel, Terrence Howard, Shirley Knight, Sonia Braga, Jeremy Sisto, Monet Mazur, Victor Argo, Daniel Magder, Alfonso Arau, JJ Evans, Dan Petronijevic
release US 18.May.01; UK 31.Aug.01
Warners 01/US 1h42
With a kind of Sixth Sense slow burn, this romantic thriller draws us in carefully, revealing its secrets little by little and keeping us hooked. There's not much at the end, really, but it's quite a nice journey while it lasts. Chicago cop Sharon (Lopez) is going about her lonely, lively job when she's saved by a quirky stranger named Catch (Caviezel), who it becomes quickly apparent is obsessed with her. But why? As she gets to know him, she finds his simplistic approach to life attractive, not to mention his gentle personality and sharp sense of humour. But something isn't right, and it takes her quite a while to get to the bottom of it all. Meanwhile, she's sorting out personal issues of her own with her abused mother (Braga), bitter brother (Sisto) and angry father (Argo).
The mystery at the centre of the film unfolds cleverly, getting under our skin and moving us with increasing emotion and a solid central performance from Lopez. Caviezel and the supporting cast are also solid, creating honest, complex characters. The dual journey structure is intriguing, as both Sharon and Catch face up to the truth about their pasts, grow up and try to get on with life ... even if it's all laid on a bit thickly by Mandoki's slick, anonymous direction. The script, on the other hand, is remarkably subtle and nuanced, with smart dialog and a gently rolling rhythm that builds interest superbly. That said, it doesn't take too long to figure out where it's all headed, which is all rather anticlimactic. We're hoping for something really outrageous, then the implied thrills and suspense convert into romance and melodrama. It isn't bad, for what it is. On the contrary, it's polished and effective. But it isn't exactly what we expect or want. And quite frankly, where's that Abba tune on the soundtrack? I mean, honestly!