Talk to an expert. Joe consults a nun for answers (Hunt and Costner)
dir Tom Shadyac|
scr David Seltzer, Brandon Camp, Mike Thompson
with Kevin Costner, Kathy Bates, Linda Hunt, Joe Morton, Ron Rifkin, Susanna Thompson, Jacob Vargas, Robert Bailey Jr, Jacob Smith, Jay Thomas, Lisa Banes, Matt Craven
release US 22.Feb.02; UK 7.Jun.02
Even before you see it, everything about this film is worrying: comedy filmmaker Shadyac, earnest actor Costner, a story about grief and the afterlife. And indeed, it doesn't take long to get on your nerve. Dr Joe Darrow (Costner) is trying to cope with the loss of his dragonfly-obsessed wife (Thompson), who died in a bus crash in Venezuela. Her body was never recovered and Joe can't come to terms with it all, even though his sparky neighbour (Bates), cold-hearted boss (Morton) and good friend/colleague (Rifkin) try to help. Then he starts getting messages from the beyond, usually carried by cute, sickly kids who've had a near-death experience and are suddenly drawing wavy crosses everywhere. He consults with an expert nun (Hunt) and things get even creepier. What could his wife be trying to tell him?
Well, it doesn't take much to figure it out, as all the clues are plonked clumsily in front of us from the very beginning. Instead we just have to grit our teeth and endure endless scenes of wistful bereavement and syrupy flashbacks. Shadyac is obviously going for a Sixth Sense vibe, and he does manage a few effectively creepy moments, but mostly it's humourless drivel accompanied by an incessant, sickly score (see also Shadyac's Patch Adams). Performance-wise, Costner is OK once he stops moping around and gets stuck into the semi-thriller stuff. Bates is by far the best thing about the film--the only character with honest wit and intelligence. The film is just about watchable, thanks to the slick production values and the simple storyline. But the premise is much more complicated if you think about it. And it could have been a much meatier film in less insipid hands.
|"Honestly, I was not sure I would like this movie. I simply do not like to be scared that much, and the trailers just show the scary stuff - kids in a hospital waking up, having a message from his dead wife, dragonflies flying against the window, the weird symbol the kids draw everywhere. It just seemed too scary to me, and I did not want to go home and lock all the windows and doors. Costner is a doctor whose wife was also a doctor specializing in pediatrics, and her ward at the hospital was the cancer ward. She was also a person who wanted to do more for others, so she went to South America to help the children there. Her husband told her not to go - she was pregnant, let someone else go - but she went because she believed in helping others. I have to say I ended up liking this movie - it was more suspense than scary. Everyone thinks he is nuts - his wife trying to contact him? He did not even believe in life after death until he figures out what the symbol is. I recommend this movie - I liked it, loved the ending. The trailers don't do it justice - it is not just another scary movie - honest!" --Laurie T, Minneapolis 5.Mar.02|