As the director of The Help, Tate Taylor may seem like an odd choice to make a movie based on Paula Hawkins' sexy mystery thriller bestseller. While the film features three central female characters, it also has a dark and twisty plot. Taylor manages to bring out plenty of insinuating textures in the characters to keep the audience intrigued, but he never quite gets a grip on the Hitchcockian elements of this story about identity and life expectations.
The title character is Rachel (Emily Blunt), who commutes into Manhattan every day, observing life in the suburban homes along the train line. She's particularly fascinated by one house and the blonde woman (Haley Bennett) who lives there with her lusty husband (Luke Evans). But the fact is that Rachel knows this woman: she's Megan, the nanny who takes care of the infant daughter of Rachel's ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), who live just a few doors down. And Rachel has a history of stalking them. Then she spots Megan with another man (Edgar Ramirez), just before Megan goes missing. So when Rachel emerges from yet another black-out drunken stupor, she begins to worry about what she might have done.
This is another challenging role for Blunt, who plays the shattered Rachel with raw grit. This is a woman who doesn't trust her own mind, knows that she drinks far too much and feels incapable of getting over her past mistakes. The film also occasionally circles around to show scenes from Megan's and Anna's perspectives, and both Bennett and Ferguson bring superbly unsteady textures to the roles. These are three complex, flawed women dealing with very big issues in their lives. And there are smaller but pivotal roles for the gifted Alison Janney (as a detective), Laura Prepon (as Rachel's flatmate) and Lisa Kudrow (as an old friend). By comparison the men are a bit simplistic.
Continue reading: The Girl On The Train Review
There's a fundamental flaw to this multi-strand social media-themed drama: it's told completely from the perspective of older people who are fearful about the possibilities, rather than the generation for whom electronic communication is the norm. It's well-made by director Jason Reitman (age 36) and his cowriter Erin Cressida Wilson (50) from the novel by Chad Kultgen (38), but it kind of misses the point that this is the future of human interaction. So younger (or more switched-on) viewers won't buy the cautionary message.
IR's set in Austin, Texas, where Rachel and Don (Rosemarie DeWitt and Adam Sandler) are each so focussed on finding space outside their marriage that they don't notice that their teen son Chris (Travis Tope) is hanging out with self-proclaimed slutty cheerleader Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia). Her best friend Allison (Elena Kamporis) is starving herself to be like her, spurred on by her mother (Judy Greer), who is doing everything she can to make Allison a star. Meanwhile, Patricia (Jennifer Garner) is desperate to control how her daughter Brandy (Kaitkyn Dever) uses small-screens, especially worried about her growing friendship with Tim (Ansel Elgort), whose father (Dean Norris) is annoyed that he has quit the school football team.
Oddly, the film seems to adopt the adults' fears as its central tone: the internet and mobile phone communications are potentially dangerous, addictive and isolating. But this makes the film feel more like a sermon than a set of intertwined stories. A far more interesting approach would be to explore how communication and relationships are shifting due to the influence of online media. Indeed, the generational aspects to the films various plotlines are the most compelling elements, with clashing points of view between grown-ups and kids. But audience members who believe that mobile phones and social media sites are the future will struggle with the way Reitman presents them as inherently troublesome.
Continue reading: Men, Women & Children Review
Erin Cressida Wilson - Celebrities attend world premiere of the Lifetime Original movie event "Call Me Crazy: A Five Film" at Pacific Design Center Silver Screen Theater. - Los Angeles, CA, United States - Tuesday 16th April 2013
Catherine (Moore) puts up with the flirtatious personality of her husband David (Neeson) until she gets evidence that he's had an affair. And now she wants details. So she hires high-class hooker Chloe (Seyfried) to seduce him and tell her what happens. "He's not the client," she reminds Chloe, and indeed it's the relationship between the women that turns strangely obsessive. Lines are blurred between who's falling in love with whom, and by the time each person starts to realise what's happening, they're in trouble.
Continue reading: Chloe Review
Shainberg imagines Arbus, played by Nicole Kidman, as a faithful housewife, very self-conscious of her strange stares and off-putting manner. She's also a devoted assistant to Allan (a superb Ty Burr), her photographer husband who captures the poppy pastel colors of 1950s dresses and various appliances for catalogs. Her life gets a shock of electricity when she catches the eye of a strange neighbor named Lionel (Robert Downey Jr.). Lionel was featured in a freak show when he was younger as a dog boy, scientifically diagnosed as hypertrichosis. The relationship that builds between Arbus and her hairy friend accounts for her artistic awakening and liberation of feminine constraints.
Continue reading: Fur: An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus Review
Secretary explodes with juicy innuendo, even from its opening moments. An extending establishing shot plays against mischievously sensual music as a woman seductively strolls through a business office performing secretarial duties. She approaches a desk, staples a few papers, pours fresh coffee into a mug, and then returns to her employer. Sounds ordinary, except that she does these things while locked inside a weird S&M device.
Continue reading: Secretary Review
As the director of The Help, Tate Taylor may seem like an odd choice to...
There's a fundamental flaw to this multi-strand social media-themed drama: it's told completely from the...
This lush, insinuating remake of the rather muted French film Nathalie (2003) benefits from a...
Diane Arbus made a name for herself by trying to make the normal look peculiar...
Secret desires and dark, unusual fetishes make for great fiction, but few filmmakers have enough...