Thursday, 13th March '03
This one is a definate rave. No question about it. Yet, I don't know many people I could recommend it to. I think Audrey and Maureen from ELDDS would like it for it's intelligent script, pretty credible acting and - if nothing else - general gloominess of it all. Errm... Tzo, you should see this one too. *tantalizing voice* It's JAMES MARSDEN... *grin* Yup, him of the criminally good looks.
Hmmm. I'm beginning to realize how hard it is to rave about a film that no one reading this has watched. And without giving away the twists and the ending. Well, in a quick summary, three journalism students Derrick Webb (Marsden), Jones (Lena Headey) and Travis (Norman Reedus) start a rumour that Naomi (Kate Hudson) and Beau (Joshua Jackson) did the unmentionable. Naomi, then drunk and paranoid, suspects date rape and Beau is arrested. Eventually we discover Derrick and Naomi were once together and he used her as a subject in revenge. *the plot thickens* Naomi had accused him of the same thing and ruined his life. In a huge twist, Jones, Travis et al lose faith in Derrick and a VERY elaborate sting has him admitting to his past sins. If this sounds interesting to you, check out a more detailed summary and probably much more articulate review, here.
What I really liked about the movie were the very subtle hints, images and symbols they scattered all round. Things like how
* Images of eyes flashed around Beau and Naomi to hint they were being watched.
* Derrick hovered over the unconcious Naomi after Beau left, his face completely unreadable.
* Derrick's last name was "Webb", refering to the web of lies he finally got caught up in.
* Travis' and Jones' mouth were digitally pixeled out of the picture on their couch cover. Does this reflect Derrick's "mouth" being the unltimate one in control?
* Travis' installation art taking form as the movie progessed, finally showing Naomi's torn visage being shot at with bullets of words that came from Jones' mouth
* Derrick slaming down Jones' hands on the floor, showing just a hint of violence and making the audience question if he wasn't quite Mr Gentle Lover.
* Each time Derrick lied he passed around a glass of alcohol as some kind of miracle emotional salve / bottled courage. Something like "Here, drink this, forget all your doubts, believe me."
* Derrick told Naomi that when she had believed he raped her once, she had not realized that "both times it was [him]". Cf point two: some will believe he really did rape her again since he was effectively alone with her. I prefer the fancier interpretation that the second time he raped her with his words.
Acting was great from all the cast and deliberately directed to confuse... I loved the way I honestly could not decide if Derrick was a hero or villian right down to the last ten minutes. And even at the end i felt just a tad sorry for him. I never thought Marsden was a serious actor till I saw this. There was this one moment when he was caught in a lie and turned around with this "I'm screwed" face. Having watched this on DVD was also good because I got to see a cut scene where he called his parents for help and they turned him away. It was eventually cut, ironically, because it was too well-acted and the director thought Derrick would gain too much sympathy. Good call. I reckon a lot of girls would then be crying when he met his sorry end, and no, we don't want that. (Just a random point. This movie very slowly but surely brings its points across. It does not preach or make its "evil" too pronouced, but still it makes its audience grow increasingly uncomfortable as the plot unfolds, without even knowing why. It has taps in on the essence of the dark, terrifying side of gossip and the malice that drives it, by reminding the audience that it is, inextricably, part of us. Very Lord of the Flies, I know.)
While most of the major acting fell on Marsden, IMHO the entire cast was brilliant. Each was completely believable in his / her role, and I still marvel at how American Headey sounds. Another point to watch for is the use of camera angles in this film (the trio trooping down Derrick's stairs, Jones in the library) and certain scenes which capture how the world can just revolve around gossip. I particularly like the one in which Jones interviews a friend of Naomi's and the rest of the college students whiz all around. The "mouths" scene is amusing too.
I did enjoy this film, enough to watch it twice back to back! The second time I watched the Director Davis Guggenheim / Jimmy Marsden commentary and I wasn't bored at all. I just wish it hadn't had so much male-female "action". *sigh* At 18 I'm still young enough to feel uncomfortable, haha. But I guess it was required to set the mood of the piece. Also (another benefit of watching the DVD) I was quite amused at how many takes it requires just to get a make out scene right. Or how Marsden could not enjoy his one kissing scene for trying to remember his lines and blocking. Or how a scored ceramic pot Marsden was supposed to hit Jackson with crumbled to dust with the force of the swing, and before contact was made. Again, haha. =0)
So. I think I've raved enough about this movie... go catch it if you can. On DVD, if you like this sort of hear-behind-the-scenes-stuff-and-break-down-the-whole-movie-like-it's-a-friggin'-literature-text thing. *gets dreamy* One day I will work on a movie as smart as this. I'll even be the clapper, I don't care!
[well, the pictures aren't going to take themselves!]