Maths-man. Jim (Wenham) knows just a bit too much...
dir-scr Robert Connolly
with David Wenham, Anthony LaPaglia, Sibylla Budd, Wayne Davis, Mandy McElhinney, Mitchell Butel, Greg Stone, Kazuhiro Muroyama, Andrew Bayly, Stephen Leeder, Bruce Myles, Vincent Gil
release UK 15.Mar.02; UK 30.Aug.02
This award-winning thriller draws us into a world of number-crunching without losing us in a sea of mathematics. Slick and gripping, it's a very confident feature debut from Connolly. The story centres on Jim Doyle (Wenham), a maths genius poached by the sinister CEO (LaPaglia) of a huge bank to develop his stock market theories--ideas that will potentially be able to predict and profit from a market crash. But as Jim gets closer to discovering the secret, the bank's shady dealings make him suspect everyone, including his new girlfriend (Budd). Meanwhile, a bereaved couple (Davis and McElhinney) are trying to make the bank pay for their personal misfortune.
This dual-strand story structure is perhaps the film's weak point, as it shows up the flaws in the narrative--conveniences, contrivances and flat-out unbelievable plotting that try to make everything come together meaningfully at the end. And even though the lawsuit subplot does add a bit of depth, it always seems like an distracting sideroad. Meanwhile, Connolly's low-key, solid direction keeps us intrigued and pretty much covers over the melodrama and moral hand-wringing. Wenham delivers yet another powerful, complex performance; it's about time Northern Hemisphere audiences discover him! LaPaglia, meanwhile, creates a terrifically arrogant character ("I am God, in a better suit"), never fully evil but always totally suspect. And the story has some excellent twists at the end that make it thoroughly satisfying in a way bloated Hollywood movies never are.
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