Review Date: March 04, 2005
Director: John Maybury
Writer: Massy Tadjedin
Producers: George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh, Peter Guber
Adrien Brody as Jack
Keira Knightley as Jackie
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dr. Lorenson
A man gets put into a mental ward after he apparently shoots an officer of the law, a moment in time he simply does not remember. While in the loony-bin, he is pumped full of drugs and inserted into a hole in the wall for hours on end by a wacky doctor who believes that he is coaxing the patient back into sanity. Is the experimental treatment working? Is the patient “spanning time” a la Vincent Gallo? Is that Keira Knightley’s nipple in that bathtub? Kookiness ensues.
Before I begin my formal review of this film, allow me to say these four simple words: Keira. Knightley. Tit. Shot. Phew! Now that I got that out of the way (and the filmmakers managed to slip it in for no reason connected to the plot of the movie whatsoever), I can concentrate on the rest of my aimless thoughts. This was a film I liked. I enjoyed it because as 2005 trickles into its third month, I have become more and more dejected with the type of movies that Hollywood is churning out. You know…recycled crap, sequels, old TV shows, movies starring rappers or singers or morons…lowest common denominator stuff. That’s why I really liked this film, because even though it has its own problems, it doesn’t follow the norm, it actually asks the viewer to pay attention to the plot, it fucks with the head and it doesn’t end things in a tightly wound bow. In other words, it’s an original film that demands a little more from the viewer who demands a little more from movies. Okay, I don’t want to oversell it either, since it does go a little too slowly at times, it plays a little too much like a “drug movie” for its first half an hour and it didn’t sell me on the type of relationship that it established between its two lead actors, but it did have me paying attention the whole way through, it did convince me of its messed-up plotline which mixed flashbacks with present day events, as well as futuristic sightings, and it did all of that, with a couple of decent actors at the helm.
Adrien Brody is its linchpin though (Knightley – and aforementioned tit – only show up about half an hour into this thing) and the man comes through as the chump who basically doesn’t know what’s happening to him. It’s the perfect part to which an audience can relate because we’re essentially placed by his side, trying to figure it all out. Yes, the film tosses some “time travel” elements in there, which are always hard to believe, but I bought it and once you do, things are pretty easy to follow after that. But what I really liked about the movie was its ability to draw me into its lead character’s emotional journey, as fucked up as it was, with an eventual “breakthrough” and conclusion that I really appreciated. Of course, the ending did feel a little “tacked on” by the studio, but I liked the fact that they left it ambiguous as well, leading you to make with it, what you will. The Beetle was a nice touch too. Funny. Props go out to the director for giving the film the claustrophobic feel that it required, the actors for coming through in their disturbing roles, and the writers for asking us to keep our brains plugged in along the way. I don’t know how great a selling quote this is but if you liked VANILLA SKY, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT and 12 MONKEYS, and appreciated the “concept” of GOTHIKA but thought the movie sucked, I think you’ll enjoy this film. At the very least, it’s a decent “buzz movie” that you can watch high, turn to your friend and say: “That was some good shit, eh dude?” and not remember much afterwards. Not for everyone but definitely for…some.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian